Marble head of a satyr

Roman period, Late hadrianic-early antonine, 1st half of 2nd century A.D.
H. 24 cm (9 29⁄64 in)

Private collection A.C., Switzerland, early 1950s
Ars Antiqua AG, Lucerne, 1966, thence by descent to the current owner

Rivista di Archeologia 3 (1979)

E. Simon e.a.
Dei e Uomini, Roma 1997, 45

Michela Sediari
Una testa di satiro sorridente, in: Rivista di Archeologia 22, 1998, 62-5, fig. 1-4

P. Arndt
Photographische Einzelaufnahmen antiker Sculpturen, München 1893, 29 no. 400 (Wörlitz); P. Arndt, Photographische Einzelaufnahmen antiker Sculpturen, München 1902, 111 no. 1478 (Kopenhagen)

P. Arndt
Photographische Einzelaufnahmen antiker Sculpturen, München 1913, 7 no. 2152 (Museo Profano Lateranense, Rome)

W. Amelung
Die Sculpturen des Vaticanischen Museum I, Berlin 1903, 579 no 409, ill. 61 (Museo Vaticano Charamonti)

G. Kaschmitz von Weinberg
Sculture del magazino del Museo Vaticano, Città del Vaticano 1937, 84 no 168, ill. XXXIV; 85 no 171, ill. XXXVII (Magazini dei Musei Vaticani)

G. Lippold
Die Skulpturen des Vatikanischen Museums, Berlin 1956, 423s. no 17, ill. 179 (Musei Vaticani-Galleria dei Candelabri)

Orietta Vasori
Le sculpture a cura di A. Giuliano, in: Museo nazionale Romano I, 1, Roma 1979, 150-151, no 104; 154-155 no 106 (Museo Nazionale Romano)

W. Klein
ÖJh, XIX-XX, 1919, 253-59, ill. 176

W. Klein
Von antiken Rokoko, Wien 1921, 53-55, fig. 18; K. Knoll, et al., eds., Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Katalog der antiken Bildwerke, vol. 2, 2011, pp. 898ff., no. 213 (Dresden)

V. Galliazzo Vicenza,
Sculture greche e romane del museo civico di Vicenza, Treviso 1976, 81-83 no 20

L. Faedo
Le antichità a cura di S. Settis, in: Camposanto Monumentale di pisa II, Pisa 1984, 180-181 no 83 (Pisa nel Camposanto Monument)

G. Traversari
La statuaria ellenistica del Museo archaeologico di Venezia, Roma 1986, 72-79, 151-153 nos 23, 24 (Venezia)

J. Chamay-J.-L. Maier
Art grec. Sculptures en pierre du Musée de Genève, I, Mainz 1990, p 31, ill. 39 (Genf)

On the subject of the Invitation to the Dance
W. Deonna
‘L’invitation à la dance’, in Studies presented to David Moore Robinson 1, ed. G.E. Mylonas, St. Louis 1951, 664–667

M. Brinkerhoff,
New Examples of the Hellenistic Statue Group, "The Invitation to the Dance," and Their Significance, in: American Journal of Archaeology , Jan., 1965, Vol. 69, No. 1, pp. 25-37

D.K. Hill
‘Nymphs and fountains’, AntK 17.2, 1974, 107–108

G. d. Luca
‘Der Satyr im Palazzo Corsini/ Rom. Eine Replik der Gruppe “Aufforderung zum Tanz”’, AntP 15, 1975, 73–81

A. Balil
‘Cabeza de fauno, en bronce, del Museo de Valladolid’, Zephyrus 32–33, 1981, 230–231

B.S. Ridgway
The Styles of 331–200 B.C. (Hellenistic Sculpture, 1), Bristol 1990, 321-324

A. Stähli
‘Statuengruppe sog. “Aufforderung zum Tanz”’, in Standorte. Kontext und Funk- tion antiker Skulptur, ed. K. Stemmer, Berlin 1995, 419–421

W. Geominy
‘Zur Komposition der Gruppe “Die Aufforderung zum Tanz”’, in Hellenistische Gruppen. Gedenkschrift für Andreas Linfert, ed. P.C. Bol, Mainz am Rhein 1999, 141–155

A. Stähli
Die Verweigerung der Lüste. Ero- tische Gruppen in der antiken Plastik, Berlin 1999, 416–421

Die Skulpturenausstattung des C.Laecanius Bassus Nymphaeum in Ephesos, in: Journal of Roman Archaeology, 2011, suppl. 80:137-138

Julia, Habetzeder
The impact of restoration The example of the dancing satyr in the Uffizi, in: in Opuscula Annual of the Swedish Institutes at Athens and Rome · November 2012, 133-163

This masterfully sculpted head of a satyr belongs to a group known for its numerous copies, now preserved in museums and private collections all over the world. The head, as is typical for a depiction of a satyr, is turned slightly to the left, with a youthful countenance. The chubby-cheeked face bears a large, childishly mischievous smile, with the teeth of his open mouth visible. The corners of his mouth are deeply drawn-in and his skin is taut over his cheekbones. His hair is thick, flowing and curly, and radiates from the crown, framing his face in waves which are swept up above the forehead, and are bound in a band adorned with berries. His pointed, billy-goat ears have been meticulously concealed behind his wavy hair, but remain partially visible. The satyr has a broad forehead with slightly asymmetrical, narrowly-spaced, blank eyes, clearly delineated eyebrows, a snub nose and a rounded chin.

This type of the head is most likely based on a Greek original of the 3rd-2nd century BC, the so-called Invitation to the Dance, renowned from the reverse of a coin minted in the city of Cyzicus during the reign of Septimius Severus, as well as from many Roman copies and adaptations. The group depicts a young satyr, dancing ecstatically and beating the rhythm of the music with a foot-clapper (kroupezion) and/or snapping fingers in front of a seated, half-clad nymph shoeing her sandal before accepting the invitation.
The supposed circumstances in which certain satyr and nymph fragments belonging to this group were discovered led to the false conclusion that the marbles were distinct sculptures by two different artists. However, the discovery of a dancing satyr’s torso next to the torso of a seated nymph at the Nymphaeum of Laecanius Bassus in Ephesos proves unequivocally that the two figures were originally a pair. The sculptor of this group has captured the moment directly before the beginning of the dance, when the tension as to whether she will accept the invitation is at its highest.
Judging by the various known replicas, the Invitation to the dance was undoubtedly a well-known and significant sculptural masterpiece in Antiquity. The satyr head shown here is, in terms of quality, one of the most well-preserved and most complete copies known to date.

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