Attributed to Desiderio da Firenze

(Active, 1532 - 1545)

Seated satyr

25.5 x 17.5cm

- S. Cristanetti et al, “Recent Acquisitions made to the Robert H. Smith Collection of Renaissance Bronzes”, The Burlington Magazine, 2007, pp 20-26, no. 58
- D. Allen and P. Motture, Andrea Riccio: Renaissance master of bronze, New York, 2008, pp.158-163, n. 10
- J. Warren, The Wallace Collection. Catalogue of Italian Sculpture, London, 2016, vol. 1, pp. 300-305, n. 62

The sculptors Andrea Riccio, Severo da Ravenna and Desiderio da Firenze have all been proposed in relation to the present model and its three basic variants. Jeremy Warren (see lit. pp. 304-305) lists 24 surviving bronzes in four groups. The present bronze is a new addition to this corpus that should be included in the smallest of the groupings and provides an enlightening comparison to the closest known versions which are now in the Musée du Louvre, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York and The Wallace Collection, London.

There is general agreement that these early 16th century satyrs derive from Riccio's masterpiece, the bronze Paschal candlestick made for the Basilica di Sant'Antonio (1507-1516) which includes bound satyrs. From these figures Riccio himself developed individual satyr statuettes, perhaps the finest of which is the seated drinking satyr in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.

The first group of the seated satyr relating to the present one shows the mythological creature on the ground with his legs spread out. The second group shows him on the ground or seated on a low tree stump or shell, but with his legs crossed. The third group also depicts the satyr with his legs crossed with a bowl in his right hand and a candle-holder in the form of a cornucopia in his left hand. The fourth group is represented by the present cast and those three mentioned above. Within these groupings there are slight variations in the position of the arms or legs and the particular attributes, but the salient point to observe is that they fundamentally all derive from the same torso whose invention was Riccio's. Warren (op. cit.) gives the most recent and fullest account of the present model. He observes that this fourth group is both the most consistent, but also the furthest from the ultimate model by Riccio. One important observation is that only the Metropolitan Museum cast has the detail of the little mouse on the tree stump also seen in the present cast, but in a slightly different position. Warren and others have related many of these seated satyrs to the fine bronze of Pan Listening to Echo in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford and, therefore, propose an attribution of these satyrs to Desiderio da Firenze and his workshop.