Kelly Grovier at the BBC.
That the Latin name for the caper flower, Capparis spinosa, is related to the Italian word capriolare (meaning ‘to jump in the air’), is a droll enough visual/verbal play to suggest that Titian is intentionally teasing us with the placement of the prickly perennial plant directly under the bouncing Bacchus. But it is the plant’s medicinal use, since antiquity, as a natural carminative (or remedy for excessive flatulence) that reveals the artist is truly letting rip with some mischievous fun. In the context of Titian’s carefully deployed caper, Bacchus’s explosive propulsion from his seat appears more wittily, if crudely, choreographed by Titian, who demystifies the lovestruck levitation by providing us with a more down-to-earth explanation for the cheeky lift-off. In Titian’s retelling of Ovid’s myth, Bacchus has been hoisted by his own pungent petard, as Shakespeare, who likewise loved toilet humour, might have said.