Height 215 cm. Munich, GlyptotekPhoto by Sergey Sosnovskiy
Height 215 cm.
The master of the Satyr, a veritable Greek Michelangelo, ranks among the greatest sculptors in European art. He may have been an Athenian. His colossal statue must originally have stood in the open as a votive offering at a sanctuary of Dionysus, the god to whose woodland retinue the Satyrs belonged. It was brought to light in Rome in the reign of Pope Urban VIII (Maffeo Barberini, 1623—
The work has excited the greatest admiration since the day it was found. Composition and modelling are masterly. The Satyr, a wild creature with a hourse’s tail, lies dreaming enraptured in a drunken slumber, leaning against a rock which is covered with a panther skin. “One seems to hear his heavy breathing, to see how the wine has made his veins swell, how his quickened pulse throbs”. An uncouth face, tousled hair with a wreath of ivy leaves and berries entwined in it, the brows knit together, the mouth half open. His left arm hung limp, the right is still flung back as when sleep first overcame him. The artist, “one of the greates in antiquity, has captured in this dreamer the surging of natural, supra-personal existence, has portrayed exactly the primeval life of the world of Dionysus”. Attacks on the figure began in Roman times with the boring of a raw hole for a fountain pipe and the reworking of the rock on the spectators’ right. After its discovery the back of the marble block was planed off to fit a base and the rock was again reworked. (The original surface of the rock survives only at the back on the left side.) Then the missing parts of the figure were restored in plaster (by Giuseppe Giorgetti and Lorenzo Ottone), though without damage to the original. Finally in the late 18th century Vicenzo Pacetti chiselled down the old surface of the breaks on the legs in order to accommodate his marble restorations. His stylistically incongruous right leg has now been replaced by one in plaster.
P. Wolters, Führer durch die Glyptothek König Ludwigs I. zu München. Munich 1935, Nr. 218.
Text: museum inscription to the sculpture.
© 2002. Description: Ohly D. The Munich Glyptothek. Greek and Roman Sculpture. Beck C. H., München, 2002, pp. 27—28.