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A Satyr Resting beneath a Herm (A Satyr Seated beside a Statue of Priapus)

By the mid-seventeenth century, artists had begun to free themselves from the constraint of using classical story lines to justify their work. In this print, Castiglione casts well-known mythological characters in a purely invented scenario.

In antiquity, herms, sculptures of Hermes (in his role as a guide), were frequently placed at crossroads, and likenesses of Priapus served as protectors of gardens. The satyrs, half-man, half-goat creatures known for their drunkenness and sexual appetites, are shown not as Dionysian revelers, but in a rural setting as simple goat herders.

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione
Italian, 1609–1664
A Satyr Resting beneath a Herm (A Satyr Seated beside a Statue of Priapus)
1645–47
Etching on paper
Image: 4 ½ x 8 ¼ in. (11.4 x. 21.0 cm); plate: 4 5/8 x 8 3/8 in. (11.7 x 21.3 cm); sheet: 5 1/16 x 8 7/8 in. (12.9 x w. 22.5 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.255