This month’s sculpture from Hadrian’s Villa is a red-marble statue of a satyr, the so-called “Fauno rosso” (red faun).
The Fauno rosso depicts a satyr follower of Dionysus, the god of wine. He is depicted entirely nude, apart from a nebris (faun skin) knotted on the right shoulder and hanging down over his left shoulder. The satyr raises his right arm and holds a cluster of grapes, symbols of the harvest. He also carries a large pedum (shepherd’s crook) in his left hand, another familiar iconography associated with satyrs. The empty eye sockets were probably filled with glass or hard stones.
To the left of the satyr is a goat that looks up at him and rests one leg on a wicker basket.
To the satyr’s right is a supporting trunk with a shepherd’s pipe hanging.
The statue is believed to be a Roman copy of a late Hellenistic Greek original, probably in bronze. It was commissioned by Hadrian and was most likely sculpted by Aristeas and Papias of Aphrodisias in Asia Minor (they signed two other sculptures found at the Villa, the “Furietti Centaurs“). The figure is made of an ancient red marble from Laconia, a region in the Peloponnese in Greece, suggesting that the satyr is so drunk that his skin has turned into the colour of the grapes.
This statue was found in fragments in 1736 in an area of the Villa called the Academy by Giuseppe Furietti, an antiquarian who obtained rights to excavate at the Villa. Pope Benedict XIV Lambertini gave the sculpture to the Capitoline Museum in 1746, which has been on public display ever since. The fragmentary statue was restored in 1751 by the Italian sculptors Bartolomeo Cavaceppi and Clemente Bianchi. They added many pieces of rosso granato marble (arms, legs, the base, the trunk with the shepherd’s pipe, the goat and the basket), characterized by greyish veins.
6 thoughts on “Art and sculptures from Hadrian’s Villa: Statue of a satyr in red marble”
I especially appreciated the part where you explained the restoration was made with a red granite. I hadn’t noticed that before. The restoration was extensive. Should we consider the goat, basket and trunk entirely new creations of the 118th century? It looks like the tip of one of horns might have been made of the red Greek marble. This blog is exceptional and I look forward to every post. Thank you for the hard work you put into it.
Thank you so much for the compliment! 🙂
Yes, we should consider the goat, basket and trunk almost entirely new 18th century creations. All that was found of the original statue was the head, the nude torso, part of the left arm, the torso of the goat, some of the fruit on the nebris, a fragment of the basket and one thumb.
So they had fragments to lead them in the restoration only the trunk of the tree was entirely ‘new’. 99.9% of the people who see this statue never think about the restorations because they don’t know about them. Personally I am in favor of restorations like this., as long as the repairs are documented. The restorations here are relatively seamless here – although obvious once the different stone is pointed out. Imagine how different the experience would be if we were just looking at fragments. I wonder why they used different stone – perhaps they didn’t have any or enough to work with. That red Greek marble would have been in great demand and I assume everything ‘in stock’ was spolia at the time and it was not being quarried
Thank you, Madam !
“The Satyr stands with his weight resting on the right leg, the left being thrust slightly forward and resting on the outer edge of the foot. The torso inclines to the left, the head looks and turns to the right, giving an undulating line to the figure. The right arm (the correct position of which may be seen in the replica, Salone, 6) holds up a bunch of grapes, on which the Satyr’s gaze is fixed. A nebris, fastened on the right shoulder, hangs over the chest and the left arm, which is bent at right angles to the body. In the fold between chest and arm are grapes and pomegranates. Beside the left foot stands a covered wicker basket full of fruit, the lid tilted by a goat, which rests its right foreleg on it and looks up at the Satyr. The latter is represented with bristling hair and a round face, flat nose and wide mouth, pointed ears, goat’s dewlaps on the neck, and a tail.
The material is costly and difficult to work, and is chosen rather for its costliness than for its fitness for statuary. The accessories are elaborate and highly finished, and their multiplicity is probably due to the Roman sculptor. The dry treatment of the elaborately rendered mus- culature is also due to the Roman worker, who fails in preserving both the general fleshiness of the surface and the prominence of each muscle.
This statue may be compared with a series in the Ny-Carlsberg Museum in Copenhagen by sculptors of Aphrodisias in Asia Minor (second century a.d.), and these again with the two Centaurs in the Salone ; see also on Imp. 49, Fil. 66, 83. The lithe elegance of the figure, together with the elaborate musculature, point to somewhat late Hellenistic times as the date of its original. The copy is Hadrianic.
Found by Furietti in the small palace of the Villa of Hadrian in 1736, and given to the Museum in 1746 by Benedict XIV…”
A catalogue of the ancient sculptures preserved in the municipal collections of Rome by British School at Rome; Musei capitolini (Rome, Italy); Jones, Henry Stuart. Oxford 1912.