Dancing satyr

1st c. CEsolid cast bronze8 7/16 in. × 4 5/8 in. × 2 1/2 in. (21.5 cm. × 11.75 cm. × 6.35 cm.)

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


This statuette depicts a youthful satyr, a half-man and half-goat creature derived from Greek mythology. As a popular figure within both Greek and Roman culture, the figure of the satyr, mischievous and frequently intoxicated, is important to Edward Perry Warren’s collection both in terms of the satyr’s links to a culture of excess and its function within the broader category of bronze sculptures. 

Captured in a moment of exuberant and likely inebriated dancing, the satyr’s rather sly smile seems to engage and perhaps even entice the viewer even though he gazes upward to his left. The figure is identifiable by the panther skin draping his torso, an ivy wreath crown, and his short tail whisked to the right. 

As a follower of Dionysus, god of theater and wine, the satyr is commonly depicted across different media and objects intended to serve a variety of purposes, particularly within the context of leisure culture. As an example, satyrs are often illustrated on symposium vases such as the Etruscan red-figure kylix (cup), which is self-referential in its depiction of a hydria being filled with water and an amphora (wine vessel), foreshadowing the imbibing of wine. Bronze statues and statuettes like this object often adorned Roman domestic spaces such as gardens, where they were admired as luxury items. The object’s private viewing context also alludes to the rise in art intended for the individual, rather than operating in public spaces to serve the state—a change observed in the late Greek and Roman periods. 

Donations of bronze sculpture were essential to Warren’s development of a representative collection of the ancient Mediterranean world, further complementing his gifts of marble statuary and terracotta figures. Additionally, the frequency with which depictions of satyrs are encountered in Greek and Roman works enables students to build skills in visual literacy and draw connections across many different types of objects.

—Brooke Wrubel


Before 1930, collection of Edward Perry Warren; 1930, bequeathed 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: Italy See all 18
Map of Mediterranean Sea with Italy highlighted.