The Bacidae

This Sarah Paxton Ball Dodson painting is one of her better known works.I saw it on February 7, 2021. The title, “The Bacidae”.

The Bacidae by Sarah Paxton Ball Dobson on view at the Newfields Art Museum Indianapolis Indiana

The Bacidae was part of a series of salon pictures. It shows two priestesses of Baccis, a noted soothsayer, who studied the entrails of birds in order to make his predictions. The painting represents an old priestess initiating a new (and alarmed) member of the order. This large canvas was exhibited at the 1883 Paris Salon. Dodson received praise for her technique, which was described as “virile in color and draftsmanship, powerful without exaggeration, masculine without straining.” This canvas became the artist’s best known work.

Cartlidge, David, Art and the Christian Apocrypha.

From her wikipedia page she was discouraged by her father to the ‘serious pursuit of art’. Funny how parents can discourage the interests of their children. It was only after her father’s death that she began her pursuit of art, eventually relocating to Paris to study. She died in 1906 in England. She was working on a painting when she passed. She pursued her passion until the day she died. A lesson to us all.

The Newfields page does not offer any information on the provenience of the painting. I would be interested in knowing how it came to hang on the wall at Newfields.

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