Mask of Silenus

323–1 BCEbronze4 3/4 in. × 2 15/16 in. × 1 9/16 in. (12 cm. × 7.5 cm. × 4 cm.)

Gift of Edward Perry Warren, Esq., Honorary Degree 1926


This bronze mask of the mythological figure Silenus was most likely attached to a piece of furniture as a decorative element. Silenus was a mythological figure who was the eldest of the satyrs, the oft-inebriated followers of Dionysus, the Greek god of wine and theatre. The ivy wreath crowning this bronze Silenus is a common feature for followers of Dionysus, as evidenced by the dancing satyr bronze statuette. This characterization of Silenus is quite popular and resembles other depictions within the Museum’s collection, such as the cameo ring with mask of Silenus. Objects portraying Silenus, who represents a broader Dionysian context, likely appealed to Edward Perry Warren as they were connected to the leisure culture of the ancient Mediterranean world.

The object originally had three bronze loops soldered to the top and sides of the head that were removed between 1898 and 1915. These loops, in addition to the remaining small cutouts behind the ears, would have enabled the bronze head to be fastened to the furnishing. These insights were discovered through sale catalogs that contributed to the object’s more-detailed provenance history. A photograph of the object appears in the 1898 sales catalog for the collection of the Polish Count Michał Tyszkiewicz (1828–1897), an important nineteenth century antiquities collector and amateur Egyptologist. The illustration indicates that at the 1898 sale, the three rings were still attached to the mask. Joseph Henry Fitzhenry purchased the bronze, and Warren subsequently acquired it from Fitzhenry. These loops were removed at some point between the Tyszkiewicz publication in 1898 and when the object entered the BCMA’s collection in 1915.

—Brooke Wrubel


Before 1915, collection of Edward Perry Warren; 1915, gifted to the Bowdoin College Museum of Art by Edward Perry Warren.

Edward Perry Warren

A testament to his impact as an influential twentieth-century American antiquities collector, Edward Perry Warren’s (1860–1928, H ’26) name is linked to hundreds of ancient objects housed in institutions across the United States, including more than five hundred works at the Bowdoin College Museum of Art alone.

Region: Greece See all 24
Map of Mediterranean Sea with Greece highlighted.