Lot 10
  • 10

A Marble Figure of a Sleeping Satyr, Roman Imperial, circa 1st Century A.D.

30,000 - 50,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • A Marble Figure of a Sleeping Satyr
  • marble
  • Length 38 1/2 in. 98 cm.
lying on a rocky outcrop with his head tilted back and to his left, his eyes closed, his right arm formerly raised, a mortise in the base between the legs, the extremities once restored by Giovanni Battista Grossi in 1780 now lost.


Cardinal Antonio Casali (1715-1787), Villa Casali, Rome, excavated by him in the Spring of 1780 at Tenuta Tor tre Teste, his estate on the Via Prenestina
Villa Casali, Rome, 1870s (recorded there by Friedrich Matz and Franz von Dühn shortly prior to the dispersal of the collection)
Collection of Jacques and Galila Hollander, Belgium, acquired from A. Elvinger, 3 rue Coppens, Brussels, June 9th, 1994


Diario di Roma, April 8th and December 30th, 1780
Giuseppe Antonio Guattani, Monumenti inediti, Rome, 1787, p. 56, pl. II (engraving showing the figure with its late 18th-century restorations by Giovanni Battista Grossi)
Comte de Clarac, Musée de sculpture antique et moderne, vol. IV, Paris, 1850, pl. 713, no. 1698
Friedrich Matz and Franz von Dühn, Antike Bildwerke in Rom mit ausschluss der grösseren Sammlungen, vol. 1, Leipzig, 1881, pp. 117-118, no. 446
Salomon Reinach, Répertoire de la statuaire grecque et romaine, vol. 1, Paris, 1906, p. 404, fig. 1
Carlo Pietrangeli, Scavi e scoperte di antichità sotto il pontificato di Pio VI, Rome, 1958, p. 94
Lorenzo Quilici, Forma Italiae, Regio 1 volumen decimum, Rome, 1974, p. 297, ill. on p. 610
Rita Santolini Giordani, Antichità Casali. La collezione di Villa Casali a Roma, Rome, 1989, pp. 101-102, cat. no. 15, pl. III
Anne-Marie Leander Touati, Ancient Sculptures in the Royal Museum: the Eighteenth Century Collection in Stockholm, vol. 1, Stockholm, 1998, pp. 103-105, fig. 37
Ilaria Bignamini and Clare Hornsby, Digging and Dealing in Eighteenth-Century Rome, New Haven and London, 2010, p. 189, note 3
Arachne, nos. 130405 and 302026

Catalogue Note

Until now the present figure was only known through the engraving published by Guattani in 1787. Cardinal Antoni Casali discovered it on his estate of Tenuta Tor tre Teste, a site just outside Rome where Gavin Hamilton had himself excavated only three years before (see Bignamini and Hornsby, op. cit.). The Cardinal entrusted restoration work to Giovanni Battista Grossi, a sculptor who did not normally undertake such work (see http://www.treccani.it/enciclopedia/giovanni-battista-grossi_(Dizionario-Biografico)/). Using a well-known trope, a contemporary of the discovery praised the sculptor's carving of the missing limbs as barely distinguishable from the antique torso and head ("con tal arte, e maestria, che non si conosce il moderno dall'antico," Diario di Roma, December 30th, 1780, quoted by Pietrangeli, op. cit.; when these restorations were removed and what became of them is unknown).

G.B. Grossi restored the one visible ear as pointed, most likely as instructed by Cardinal Casali who, as an antiquarian, made deliberate and informed decisions as to the scope and nature of the interventions he commissioned. The statue has been referred to as a satyr ever since. Friedrich Matz, the last scholar who had a chance to examine it in person, agreed with the restoration of the ear as "ganz richtig" (op. cit.).

As is evident now that the statue was de-restored and is again available for study, the ancient core of the statue bears no distinguishable attribute of a satyr. It is not impossible, therefore, that in its original state the figure may have had a human ear and represented instead a mythological character, such as Endymion for example, even though Endymion is usually shown with drapery covering the lower part of his body. Anne-Marie Leander Touati points out some of the close resemblances between the present figure and the over-lifesize statue of Endymion in Stockholm, which, incidentally, was also restored by Grossi (see P. Zanker, Klassizistische Statue, Mainz, 1974, no. 15, pl. 83,5, and Leander Touati, op. cit., no. 1, pl. 1).