Amphissa was the capital of an annual festival in honor of the god Bacchus. In 350 B.C., the territory was overrun by an army from Phocis, stirring fear that the bacchantes would become vulnerable after their celebrating to attack by the enemy soldiers. The women of Amphissa consequently stepped in to protect the sleeping bacchantes throughout the night, guarding them against being ravished by the opponent. Alma-Tadema portrays dawn at the Amphissian marketplace the morning after, its women serving food, standing watch, and caring for the exhausted Bacchantes.
The women who seem to be rousing from having fallen asleep on the floor are all followers of the god Bacchus.
The women have come to the city from a different town, after dancing in a ritualistic ceremony and have fallen asleep in the Amphissa town square.
These women let a different lifestyle than the women of Amphissa, which can be seen in their much looser dresses and overall demeanor.
I always say that paintings have a mind of their own. As an artist, I often start with a certain image in my mind and as I keep working on a painting, things tend to change. It is as if an invisible hand, or perhaps the painting muse takes over ....
Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema not only made changes to this painting but at one time decided to paint in a figure that differs greatly from the rest of the females in the painting. Can you tell which one it is? The figure in the brown/green dress is his wife!
Learn more about the painting here
The Women of Amphissa is now added to one of my Jewelry / Keepsake boxes. These boxes are made with mahogany-colored wood and measure 6.5" x 8.5" x 2.75".