Roman, Imperial Period, ca. 1st to 3rd century CE. A charming cast bronze handle from a casket or similar item depicting the face of a satyr - probably Silenus - on its lower portion. The satyr's face is characteristically horned, with incised wild hair that stands up atop the head and a thick, bushy mustache and beard. His features are close together, with wide eyes and a wide nose above a large, full-lipped mouth. Thick eyebrows complete his face. Above the head, two spirals mark the lower end of the handle. The handle arches in a gentle curve to a dual terminal on the upper end, which is decorated with wings on each side. A thick loop projects from the top of the handle. Size: 3.25" W x 6" H (8.3 cm x 15.2 cm); 6" H (15.2 cm) on included custom stand.
Satyrs were powerful symbols in ancient Rome, associated with the joy of the Bacchanal. This example is likely Silenus, a satyr-like figure who was an older companion to Bacchus (Dionysus). The consumption of wine was an important social activity in Roman society and Silenus was commonly added to decorative items to signify the owner's affiliation with the cult of Bacchus. Themes of the god and his followers were particularly popular during the early part of this time period, as control of the Mediterranean shifted from Greece to Rome.
Provenance: ex-Neil Phillips collection, New York, USA, acquired in the 1980s
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Excellent condition, with a dark green, smooth patina and beautifully preserved details. A few light scratches/areas of wear commensurate with age.