Ludovisi Dionysus

Ludovisi Dionysus

The over-lifesize marble "Dionysus with Panther and Satyr" in the Palazzo Altemps, [Inventory number 8606.] Rome, is a Roman work of the second century CE, found in the sixteenth century [It appeared in Giovan Battista Cavalieri, "Antiquarum Statuarum Urbis Romae tertius et quartus liber", (Rome, 1594), plate 74.] on the Quirinal Hill at the time foundations were being dug for Palazzo Mattei at Quattro Fontane. [According to the tradition recorded by the sculptor-dealer and diarist Flaminio Vacca, "Memorie di varie antichità trovate in diversi luoghi della citta di Roma", Rome, 1704, (memoria 37).] The statue was purchased for the Ludovisi collection, where it was first displayed in front of the "Palazzo Grande", the main structure of the Villa Ludovisi, and by 1641 in the gallery of sculptures in the "Casino Capponi" [ [ Gruppo colossale di Dionisio e satiro] : description, history, conservation, bibliography] erected for Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi in the villa's extensive grounds. By 1885, it had been removed to the new Palazzo del Principe di Piombino, nearby in via Veneto. With the rest of the Boncompagni-Ludovisi collection, it was purchased in 1901 for the City of Rome, as the Ludovisi collection was dispersed and the Villa's ground built over at the end of the nineteenth century. The formula, with somewhat exaggerated "contrapposto", the god's right hand resting on his head, is based on the Apollo Lyceus, which is variously attributed and dated. This ivy-crowned Dionysus is accompanied by the panther that signalises his numinous presence, and a satyr of reduced size, a member of his retinue. Long locks of his hair fall girlishly over his shoulders and in his left hand he holds a bunch of grapes, emblematic of his status as god of wine.

The original elements are the heads, torsos and thighs of Dionysus and the satyr. The arms of the satyr and the lower legs and base are modern— that is, sixteenth-century— restorations.



*Venetucci, Beatrice Palma. "Museo Nazionale Romano. Le Sculture" vol. I.4, Antonio Giuliano ed., Rome, 1983:84-90

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