Veneto, 18th Century
Bronze, marble base
height 30 cm - 11 3/4 in (with base)
height 18 cm - 7 1/4 in (without base)
Perhaps cast in an Italian workshop in the Veneto region, this fine bronze sculpture mounted on a circular giallo antico base represents a young figure carrying a goat on his shoulders. The figure can easily be identified as a satyr thanks to the pointed ears and goat-like legs and feet.
Bronze depictions of satyrs and putti were quite popular in northern Italy and important examples of these representations are today housed in international museum collections. However, other examples of this specific subject have yet to be found.
The scene here might depict the young Greek divinity Pan carrying a goat on his shoulder, as represented in a 2nd Century BC terracotta sculpture in the British Museum, accession number 1926,0939.44
Alternatively, the subject of this sculpture is perhaps linked to the ritual of the Dithyramb, the ancient Greek hymn sung and danced in honour of Dionysus by a chorus of singers disguised as goats and called Satyrs. According to Plutarch (Moralia, 257), the ritual featured a parade, in which a satyr holding an urn full of wine and some branches of vine was leading, followed by a satyr carrying a goat, then by a satyr carrying figs and at last by a satyr holding a phallus – all symbols of the worshipped God.
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