Roman Marble Torso of Marsyas

SKU: HQ.0094

Origin: Mediterranean
Circa: Early Roman Imperial Period, 1st Century AD
Dimensions: 14" height x 18" wide x 9" depth (35.5 cm x 45.7 cm x 22.9 cm) 18" high with custom metal stand
Medium: Marble

This striking Roman Marble torso belongs most assuredly the Mythological Satyr Marsyas. The depiction is one that is frequently portrayed in greco-roman statuary, (originally as part of the bronze figural group by Myron) and features Marsyas recoiling ever so slightly in delight with a well defined, muscular torso and a small tuft of a tail fur on his lower back.  Somewhat anathema to the static and languid poses of Greek Gods and Roman Emperors, this brilliant depiction is utterly dynamic, rife with vitality and full of movement.  In it's full form, It portrays that fateful moment when Marsyas stumbles upon Athena's discarded flute, and is taken aback with almost mischievous delight.  Here we can see the supple yet taught musculature of the impetuous satyr on full display with a slight tilt to one side so as to appropriately replicate how the figure would have stood in its entirety.  Of captivating aesthetic form simply on it's own merits, this breath-taking image also gives us a glimpse into one of the classical world's most enduring myths.

Acquired on the New York Art Market. New York Private Collection, c. early 1990’s. With Antiquarium, Ltd., New York, where acquired by Dick Marconi, Los Angeles, CA in 1998. Thence by descent.

Of brilliant white pentellic marble, the torso fragment is in fine condition with minor chips, scratches, surface abrasions, stippling, and light patches of discoloration throughout. With shallow sinuous fissure running down the mid line of the chest and abdominal area. Minor chips and losses, with shallow raking scratches to the rear.

The Phrygian Satyr, Marsyas, is connected with the earliest period of Greek/Roman music. Marsyas found the first flute (Aelos) that was thrown away by the goddess Athena who "did not care for the bloating of the cheeks" while playing. Marsyas however, enamored with the instrument, became so adept at the flute, he challenged the god Apollo to a musical contest. To which he then lost because he couldn't play it upside down so Apollo had him tied to a tree and brutally flayed alive. Sadly, somewhere buried underneath all that terror, is a staunch lesson in hubris.

For a view of the full composition see 'Athena and Marsyas,' The Vatican Museums, Rome, Vatican, Lateran 225.

Lippold: Griechische Plastik, 139 (n.9)
Richter: Sculpture & Sculptors of the Greeks (1950), 209-, fig.584
Arias: Mirone, 18,1, pl. V.17-18, pl. VI.19
Walston: Catalogue of Casts in the Museum of Classical Archaeology (1889), 32, no.120
Lawrence: Classical Sculpture (1928), 180-, pl. 46.1
Rhys Carpenter: Memoirs of the American Academy in Rome XVIII (1941), 5-, pls. 2,3,5



Roman Marble Torso of Marsyas


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