Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
5th century BCE
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World, Europe, Etruria
Classical period
Persistent Link
Physical Descriptions
Leaded bronze
Cast, lost-wax process
8.5 x 3.9 x 2.9 cm (3 3/8 x 1 1/2 x 1 1/8 in.)
Technical Details

Chemical Composition: XRF data from Tracer
Alloy: Leaded Bronze
Alloying Elements: copper, tin, lead
Other Elements: iron, antimony
K. Eremin, January 2014

Technical Observations: The statuette was most likely cast in the lost-wax method. The surface is very rough, but some details in the face, hair, and beard are fairly well preserved. These details were made directly in the wax model. The tail also may have been shaped and attached directly to the wax model. The fingers of both hands are lost. Repairs of lead at both ankles and the lack of detail in the modeling of the left foot may indicate some degree of restoration. The circular base, probably a modern addition, is lead. A thick coat of varnish covers the statuette. The patina is an irregular green with areas of brown and small spots of red.

Henry Lie (submitted 2005)

From the collection of Lilian and Benjamin Hertzberg.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Benjamin and Lilian Hertzberg
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 satyr stands frontally with his knees slightly bent. He extends his left leg and turns the right leg slightly outward. The figure’s feet connect to a rounded base, which is probably modern. Both arms hang down straight and are held a short distance from the body. The hands are broken off just below the wrists. There is some indication of a thumb on the left hand. The musculature on the torso is defined and naturalistic; an erect phallus is represented, and a very long, thin tail curves in a high arch from the back just above the buttocks before merging with the calf of the right leg. The muscles of the back are suggested by an indented area in the center.

The head is very detailed. His hair resembles a cap, forming a ridge along the top of the forehead. Equine ears appear through the hair on either side of the head. He wears a full, pointed beard and heavy mustache, which hangs down on either side of the mouth. Arching eyebrows appear above the eyes, which are indicated by inscribed lines for eyelids, but contain no pupils.

The satyr was a popular Etruscan motif, appearing in various media, such as vase painting (1). Small bronze figurines such as this satyr are well known, and many may have been intended as furniture adornment or ornaments for the house (2). They appear as decorative attachments on objects such as candelabra, oil lamps, heating vessels, tables, and cup stands. The presence of a base suggests this bronze satyr may have been a finial from a candelabrum. Since evidence for the attachment is unclear, however, it alternatively may have been a votive offering.


1. For general bibliography, see A. F. Gori, Museum Etruscum exhibens insignia veterum Etruscorum monumenta: Aereis tabulis CC. nunc primum edita et illustrate (Florence, 1737); A. Neppi Modona, Cortona etrusca e romana nella storia e nell’arte (Florence, 1925); and P. J. Riis, Tyrrhenika: An Archaeological Study of the Etruscan Sculpture in the Archaic and Classical Periods (Copenhagen, 1941).

2. For a similar Etruscan satyr from the Late Archaic period from Cortona is in Leiden at the Rijksmuseum van Oudhenden (inv. no. C. O. 12), see E. H. Richardson, Etruscan Votive Bronzes: Geometric, Orientalizing, Archaic (Mainz, 1983) 356, type V A, fig. 854, pl. 258. There are also many versions of reclining satyrs of similar style: see a Greek or South Italian reclining satyr c. 450-425 BCE in A Passion for Antiquities: Ancient Art from the Collection of Barbara and Lawrence Fleischman, exh. cat., The J. Paul Getty Museum, Malibu; The Cleveland Museum of Art (Malibu, 1994) 71, no. 27.

Alexis Belis

Exhibition History

32Q: 2540 Renaissance, Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, 07/18/2018 - 11/15/2018

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at