SEVERO CALZETTA DA RAVENNA, CERCLE OF

ACTIVE IN NORTHERN ITALY C. 1496–1543

KNEELING SATYR, KNEELING SATYR, BRONZE, H. 20.5 CM, 1600-1630

The kneeling satyr is probably based on statues from antiquity and represents one of the most widely used motifs in the 16th century. The satyr’s left hand would have rested on an inkwell that no longer exists and have held an oil lamp in its raised right hand. The satyr’s looks up at the flame in amazement with a slightly opened mouth. The composition was created in the first decade of the 16th century by Severo Calzetta da Ravenna in Padua and distributed in a number of different variations by his workshop.

The satyr is the enfant terrible in art. A creature half-human and half-goat, he stands for libidinous lust and has an affinity for wine and music. He often preys on beautiful nymphs and indulges in debaucherous pleasure. The satyr can be recognised by its cloven hooves, its dense covering of hair and its long, pointed ears. In Ancient Greek theatre the satyr disrespectfully criticised gods and heroes that gave rise to the word ‘satire’.