Statue group of Satyr and Hermaphrodite


About this object

Statue group of Satyr and Hermaphrodite, reproducing a popular type, known in more than 30 marble replicas and some bronzes and taking its name from the group in Dresden. The young hermaphrodite wrestles with an old satyr. A cloth underneath them suggests that the scene is taking place outdoors, perhaps just before the hermaphrodite laid down before her napping or her bath. The two figures are similar in size, the hermaphrodite seems to be unbalancing the satyr, pushing him hard on his face and shifting him backwards by lifting his back leg. She has her right ankle wrapped around him and this may hinder her escape. There is no indication of what the final outcome of the battle will be. Different to other examples from the same type, the hermaphrodite of this group does not seem to have her mouth open in terror but seems to smile, mocking the attacker.
The base was discovered with the group but does not belong to it. The inscription on the base is modern. The statue was found in the remains of a villa at Prato Bagnato on the Via Prenestina in 1776 by Nicola La Piccola and sold to Blundell in 1786. The statue of Dionysos (59.148.32) was found in the same context as well as the Head of Apollo and the Head of the misidentified Isis which was really Apollo (59.148.108). The base is a restoration and the inscription on the right end is modern. There are several restorations on the left arm and right leg of the hermaphrodite, her left breasts. Restorations to the satyr include the lower right leg from the knee, the lower calf and the foot, right thigh and some damage on the fingers and toes. The group may have been chemically treated and some recutting may have taken place in the hermaphrodite's breast.
Statues of this type would have been displayed in Roman villas or theatres, many versions displayed as duos and apart from their erotic undertones may have also served as a point of conversation of the differences between men and women or the dangers of lust for aged men.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
    Roman Imperial
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Rome
  • Date made
    2nd Century AD
  • Materials
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of Col. Joseph W Weld, 1959
  • Collector
    Henry Blundell
  • Place collected
    Europe: Southern Europe: Italy: Salone
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    970 mm x 800 mm x 495 mm x 319.5 kg
  • Note
    See Bartman's discussion of earlier claims that this type of the statue derived from Ceiphisosdotus, the 3rd century BC sculptor, testified by Pliny as the creator. The complexity of angles and voids suggests that the type derived from a pictorial prototype or may have influenced similar images for wall paintings. The group would be of a later date than the known type of the sleeping hermaphrodite (dated in the 2nd century BC ). Bartman dated the prototype that inspired the Roman work as a late Hellenistic date for the Roman copy of the Imperial period. Precise date is difficult because of the damage and reworking. Townley mentioned in a letter to Blundell that the work was indelicate and difficult to display openly. The erotic nature of the work was appealing to the 18th century Grand Tourists, the inscription was probably added around that time Βουπαλος εποιει, the name of the Greek sculptor who supposingly made the work. Although a sculptor with that name is known, he is more from the Archaic period. Bartman's view: the inscription may not been intended to add to the value of the work but may also be a reference to the size of the genitalia of the Satyr. The forger would have therefore been a well read person in classical texts.
  • Related people
    Henry Blundell ( Collector, previous owner); Niccolo La Piccola ( Previous owner); Joseph William Weld ( Previous owner)

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Previous owners

  • Joseph William Weld

    Owned from: 1958
    How acquired: By descent
    Owned until: 1959
    Disposal method: Donation
  • Henry Blundell

    Owned from: Unknown or unrecorded
    How acquired: Purchased
    Owned until: 1810
    Disposal method: Bequest
  • Niccolo La Piccola

    Owned from: 1775
    How acquired: Unknown or unrecorded
    Owned until: Unknown or unrecorded
    Disposal method: Bequest
Object view = Humanities
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