TITLE: Satyr CULTURE: Roman PERIOD: 2nd Century AD MATERIAL: Bronze DIMENSIONS: Height 13 cm REF: 20142174 PRICE: 17,500 Euros PROVENANCE: Private collection of B.H., New York, acquired in 1980. CONDITION: In a good state of preservation. Intact apart from the missing left foot.DESCRIPTION: Very fine example of a satyr modelled with the right leg placed forwards and arms separated from the body, thus giving an impression of movement to the sculpture. The arms are held in unusual positions: the right is raised and bent with the palm of the hand at the level of the eyes in a manner that suggests that it is protecting the eyes from the sunlight so that the figure can peer into the distance. The left, by contrast, is bent downwards with the palm open in a manner expressing a certain tension. The face shows the characteristically exaggerated features of fauns, with pointed ears and a disordered mop of hair. The body is naked apart from an animal skin covering part of the chest and the back of the figure.
Satyrs were male creatures in Greek mythology who accompanied Pan and Dionysus, roaming around the woods and mountains. They are associated with sexual appetite. The painters of ceramic vases often depicted them alongside nymphs and maenads, sometimes with perpetual erections.
The lararium was a small shrine in Roman houses in which the family members could place offerings on an altar and offer up prayers to the household gods. These were represented by statuettes called lares, mostly made of bronze. In patrician residences the lararium was in general found in the atrium, the central hall of the residence. In a simpler residence without an atrium, the shrine would be more or less in the kitchen near the central fire.
The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out from expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To remove the final piece the mould must be removed.