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Ariadne, daughter of Minos, King of Crete, has been abandoned by Theseus. She is found by Bacchus and taken as his bride. Turner's picture is based on Titian's of the same subject, which had entered the National Gallery in 1826 and was praised by Charles Lamb in an essay published in 1833. For the first time, Turner experimented here with a square canvas, and apparently painted in the final glazes when the picture was already in a round frame.

August 2004