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FRAGMENTARY TORSO: TYPE OF THE DANCING SATYR FROM THE INVITATION TO THE DANCE

Pentelic marble

Height (torso): 34cm

Museum number: MC20

Vermeule catalogue number: Vermeule 369help-vermeule-catalogue-number

Curatorial note

The general type of this figure can be identified from the peculiarly individual position of the shoulders, and the arms thrust back while the hands were forward and sideways. As the illustrations reveal, the angles of the breaks both at the neck, across the chest, and where arms join shoulders give an even more actively striding appearance than was present in the most famous original of the type or group.

The popularity of the bronze original of the Dancing Satyr in ancient times was only matched by the frequency which the figure was copied in Neo Classic and more modern periods, particularly after the discovery of at least one small bronze of related type in the ruins of Pompeii. Even today, the Italian art market, most noticeably along Rome's Via del Babuino is crowded with replicas in miniature of the marble copies. Many of these are purely curiosities, many have been artificially aged and patinated to deceive (see Chiurazzi-De Angelis, Fonderie Artistiche Riunite, Naples, 1910, p.79). The Soane torso is a less boldly modelled, more softened Roman marble variant related to a number of other lifesize examples in the same material (notably statues in Florence, the Museo Torlonia, Visconti, Album, pl.VI, no.21, two examples in the Louvre, and sundry torsi: e.g. that from the Cook collection and now in the Ashmolean Museum, JHS, XXVIII, 1908, pl.VI, 9), all of which mirror a Hellenistic Third Century B.C. bronze statue of the "Satyr with the Kroupezian (Foot-clappers)" and which with a seated nymph (of which parallel replicas, Roman copies, also survive) formed the group known as the "Invitation to the Dance". The Ashmolean label notices that the group was reproduced on coins of Cyzicus and may well have stood there (reconstruction by Studniczka, in JDAI, XXXIV, 1919, p.142, fig. 35; see also; Klein, in Zeitschr. F. Bildende Kunste, new ser., 20, pp.191ff.; idem, Rokoko, pp.45ff.; and Lippold, Die Griechische Plastik, p.320).

One difference between the Soane torso and the better Louvre and Uffizi replicas is a considerable softening in modelling and display of muscles, probably under the influence of very late Hellenistic or even Hadrianic classicism.

While the Uffizi and Louvre statues preserve the overstudied but not overdeveloped (as, say, the Farnese Hercules) muscle structure of the bronze original, the Soane torso goes beyond that of the Museo Torlonia statue in presenting a softer Satyr modelled in more subtle planes and therefore in reality represents a separate work, the relation of which to the Niobid group is best illustrated by comparison with no.366 in this collection.

The Soane Museum fragment is D.M. Brinkerhoff, AJA, LXIX, 1965, p.28, pl.5, fig. 14, p.33, no.23 in list of replicas.

On the group of the "Invitation to the Dance", original and copies, see also D.M. Brinkerhoff, A Collection of Sculpture in Classical and Early Christian Antioch, New York, 1970, p.39, figs. 58-60; idem, AJA, LXIX, 1965, pp.25-37, pls.3-6, figs. 1-15; M. Bieber, The Sculpture of the Hellenistic Age, New York, 1961, p.139, figs. 562-567; D.K. Hill, Antike Kunst, 17, no.2, 1974, pp.107-108, plo.24. Brinkerhoff's 1965 AJA article gave a list of 64 "replicas including fragments, adaptations and post-classical copies" (of both the satyr and the nymph); Hill added two more torsos of the satyr, the nymph is Basel, and a nymph's head in the Walters Art Gallery, Baltimore. This head, and presumably the rest of its statue, had been carved as part of a fountain, blowing water from the figure's mouth.

Provenance help-art-provenance

Unrecorded

Literature

Michaelis, p.475, no.6.


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