replica of a triumph, 2022.

Two color thread embroidery on white cotton fabric, 12 x 15cm.

The subject of Ariadne and Bacchus is depicted in various famous paintings, including Titian’s 1523 “Bacchus and Ariadne” (National Gallery, in London), Tintoretto’s 1576 “Ariadne, Venus and Bacchus” (Sala di Anticollegio, Palazzo Ducale, Venice), Hans Friedrich Schrorer’s 1577, drawing exactly replicating Tintoretto’s work (Städel Museum, Frankfurt) and Hans Makart’s 1874 “The Triumph of Ariadne” (Österreichische Galerie Belvedere, Vienna). Regardless of Ariadne’s lustreless co-starring next to Theseus throughout the fable, her triumphing portrait radiates victoriously next to Bacchus in Makart’s painting, originally intended as curtain for the Komische Oper in Vienna.

Almost a century later, in 1961, the Austrian Postal Administration issued four stamps to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Kunstverein Wien. For this occasion, the painter and designer Adalbert Pilch collaborated with the engraver Rudolph Toth to produce a new version of Ariadne’s triumph – the black and white postage stamp, worth 5 schilling, depicting the part Makart’s composition portraying mainly Ariadne and Bacchus.

Following the long thread of the tradition of painting the triumph of Ariadne, Lea Petrou appropriates the Pilch/Toth engraved version of the couple. This time, she employs the irony to closely replicate all the pedantic details of the stamp by means of a small piece of embroidery of black on white thread. Her hope is to revitalize the myth of Theseus, and contribute to the “me too” trend in postmodernism and, by extension, to update Ariadne’s triumph.

The original 1961 stamp of Ariadne’s Triumph by Adalbert Pilch and Rudolph Toth.

The embroidery, detail. Photos by Lea Petrou.