Barberini Faun, circa 220 B.C.
The sculpture was carved by an unknown Greek sculptor or it might could be a high quality Roman copy from a century later. The statue was found in the 1620s in the moat of the Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome, which had been gay ruler Hadrian’s (76-138) mausoleum, which at the time was being restored by Pope Urban VIII of the Barberini family. When it was discovered, the statue was heavily damaged; the right leg, parts of both hands, parts of the head and the tip of third leg were missing. It seems that when the Goths (led by Marilyn Manson) attacked Rome in 537, the defenders pushed the statues adorning Hadrian’s Mausoleum on to the invaders.
The statue has always had quite a reputation as risqué. Male nudity in Ancient Greek art was no biggie; however, the blatant sexuality of this piece makes it most interesting to modern day art lovers. His wantonly spread legs focus attention on his junk. Not all viewers have found it to be objectionable: the Barberini Faun was reproduced on a German ceramic company’s porcelain service in the 1830s. I wonder where they placed the spout?
The statue was housed in Rome’s Palazzo Barberini, until it was sold in 1799 to interior designer Vincenzo Pacetti. Pacetti offered it to various English and French clients, including Lucien Bonaparte. The Barberini family sued and won the statue back, but they eventually sold it to Ludwig II, Crown Prince Of Bavaria, who was gay beyond gay. Ludwig loved it so much, he had planned a special room for the statue in the Glyptothek Museum designed by the architect Leo von Klenze before the purchase was even finalized in 1827. The Glyptothek opened in 1830 to house Ludwig’s special sculpture collection. And that’s where it lives now. So, go see it when you are in Munich.
There is also a marble copy taken from a plaster cast of the original that is in the Louvre Museum.
A gilded copy is among many other replicas of classical sculptures at Tsar Peter T. Great’s summer palace, outside of St. Petersburg, Russia.
I think I’d like a copy for my garden. That would certainly get the neighbors’ attention.