Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Replica of the Dancing Faun from the House of the Faun, Pompeii
Work Type
statuette, sculpture
19th-early 20th century
Creation Place: Europe, Italy
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded brass
Cast, lost-wax process
overall: 32 x 10.7 x 10.5 cm (12 5/8 x 4 3/16 x 4 1/8 in.)
base: 2.5 cm (1 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: ICP-MS/AAA data from sample, Leaded Brass:

Cu, 70.34; Sn, 1.68; Pb, 3.99; Zn, 22.9; Fe, 0.64; Ni, 0.33; Ag, 0.06; Sb, 0.06; As, less than 0.10; Bi, less than 0.025; Co, less than 0.005; Au, less than 0.01; Cd, 0.005

J. Riederer

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Artax 2
Alloy: Leaded brass
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead, zinc
Other Elements: iron, nickel

K. Eremin, June 2015

Chemical Composition:
Lead Isotope Analysis (Pb, 3.99%):

Pb206/Pb204, 18.23884; Pb207/Pb204, 15.63387; Pb208/Pb204, 38.32379; Pb, 207/Pb206, 0.85717; Pb 208/Pb206, 2.10122; Pb208/Pb207, 2.45133

P. Degryse

Technical Observations: The patina consists of a thin dark green and black layer with spots of light green and white accretions, which appear to be residue of investment material. No clear evidence of long-term burial exists. Some of the light green spots may have developed since manufacture. The bronze is a hollow lost-wax cast, presumably using an indirect technique. The bronze base is attached with screws and square nuts.

Henry Lie (submitted 2001)

Nettie G. Naumburg, bequest; to the Fogg Art Museum, 1930.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Bequest of Nettie G. Naumburg
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
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Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
The faun balances on his toes and pivots, his horned head raised, his wild hair wreathed with acorns. He is smiling lasciviously, flipping his tail, and snapping his fingers. This exuberant dance belongs to the world of Dionysos, evoking a rural, untamed life. The original statuette has been called the finest bronze ever found at Pompeii. Because of this, some argue that it is based on a Greek original, with the dates assigned to that copy or to the Greek original ranging from 300 to 100 BCE (1). The house itself, whose interior décor included the faun, was destroyed in 79 CE by the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius.

The first version of this dancing faun was discovered in October 1830, installed in the middle of an impluvium, the pool in the atrium, of a Pompeiian house that filled an entire city block. The house was named the House of the Faun (Pompeii VI.12.2) after the statuette (2), which, much like the great Alexander Mosaic from the same house, immediately became famous.

In 1860, under Victor Emmanuel II, the antiquities from Pompeii were put on view for the general public in the National Archaeological Museum at Naples. Permits for taking molds from antiquities in order to copy them were soon granted to various individuals and institutions. The reproductions that these enterprises offered were often reduced in scale, making them easy for Grand Tourists to take home to northern Europe, Britain, or America. This statuette is surely a souvenir of the Grand Tour.


1. For the original faun, see F. Haskell and N. Penny, Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture, 1500-1900 (New Haven, 1981) 208-209, no. 35.

2. Museo Archeologico Nazionale, Naples, inv. no. 5002; h. 71 cm.

Carol Mattusch

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Related Works

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