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image L68

Statuette of Silvanus

Undated

Bronze, hollow cast in two sections

Height: 37cm
Height (excluding base): 27cm
Height (lower part, separated): 20cm
Height (upper part, separated): 16.5cm

Museum number: L68

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 431help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The Italo-Roman god of the forests, in this Romano-Hellenistic manifestation, has curly locks and a full, luxuriant beard; on his head he wears a large pine-wreath with pine cones, tied at the back, and a goat-skin fastened over the right shoulder. He is shod with high endromides, with tops turned over, leaving the toes bare. In the fold of his goat-skin are the fruits of the meadows and forests, pine-cones, ivy leaves, fruit etc.; his right hand holds the woodman's knife (now bent), and the left held a bough, the ends of which are visible in the palm and on the shoulder.

This bronze is a better-styled, more carefully executed (as its method of casting testifies) counterpart of an example found at Nocera in the Campania in 1865 and now in the British Museum2. There is some iconographic confusion between this rustic divinity and his close counterparts Faunus and Vertumnus: Faunus, as identified in a bronze in the Bibliothèque Nationale and others, holds a wooden horn (cernas) in his right hand3. For the definition of Silvanus, as opposed to those figures which have been wrongly termed Vertumnus, see Daremberg-Saglio4 under these respective titles. The Silvanus type exists in a number of cult and garden statues scattered throughout modern Roman collections; the marble counterpart of the Soane bronze may be exemplified by the small statue set on an altar dedicated to SILVANO SANCTO in the large cloister of the Museo delle Terme, Rome5.

1 Walters, Bronzes, no.1326.
2 B.M., Bronzes, no. 1523, pl. XXX.
3 Babelon-Blanchet, p. 40f., no. 90; Daremberg-Saglio, Dict., FAVNVS, fig. 2898f.
4 Daremberg-Saglio IV, 1, p. 1345; V, 2, p. 738f.
5 No. 125774; see R. Paribeni, Terme di Diocleziano, p. 133, no. 252, p. 166, no. 429 etc.


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk