Statue of Pan

Inv. Scu 16

These two symmetric statues feature Pan the Greek god of country life and nature, linked to the cult of Dionysus.

The god, as usual, is depicted with goat-like legs, hooves and horns, while the upper part of the bust is in human form. The contrast between smooth and rough surfaces mirrors the juxtaposition between the human and feral nature of the figure.

Pan wears a panther skin fixed on the left shoulder and grasps a big bunch of grapes with the left hand, which is lowered and adheres to the body.

The right arm is raised to hold a basket full of grapes balanced on the head; this may suggest that the statue originally was used as an architectonical support (telamon). However, the thinness of the back-pillar of the statue appears to prove that this figure and its companion were rather inserted into a wall as purely decorative elements.

The high quality of the work and the excellence of the modelling may date the statue to the late Hellenistic period; on the contrary, the companion, because of a different treatment of the surfaces, is believed to have undergone a later reworking.

The statues are said to have been discovered in the Theater of Pompey and their finding is usually located in the “Piazza dei Satiri” which apparently took its name from them. As a matter of fact the name “Piazza dei Satiri” is first mentioned only from the mid 18th century onwards. In recent studies it has been doubted that the two statues may have been part of the sculptural decoration of the Theater of Pompey.

The sculptures are known as Della Valle Satyrs, and were seen and admired by artists and travellers in the courtyard of Palazzo Della Valle throughout the 16th century, except for the time when they were used in the decoration of a triumphal arch in the Via Papale in 1513. After having shortly been in the collection of the Cardinal Alessandro Albani, in 1734 they were moved to the Capitoline Museum and placed to either side of the Marforio fountain.