c. 1525-1528

Giovanni Maria Mosca

(Italian, 1495/99-1574)


Overall: 16.5 x 11.5 cm (6 1/2 x 4 1/2 in.)

Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Severance A. Millikin 1947.29


In antiquity, satyrs were lustful woodland deities who delighted in wine and revelry. Renaissance artists adopted them as symbols of vice and carnal love; the female satyr, or satyress, on this bronze plaquette, recently reattributed from Riccio to Mosca, was probably derived from a copper engraving of a Roman sarcophagus by Marcantonio Raimondi (c. 1470/82-1527/34). Both the sarcophagus and subsequent engraving depicted a bacchanalia, or scene of orgiastic carousal; the peculiar objects surrounding the satyress have been added by the artist, possibly in an effort to remove the figure from her lewd original composition and give a more refined meaning. The satyress rests her right hoof upon a plumed helmet. A coiled shape, possibly a snake, winds out of the helmet. To her left, a laurel tree stands with only half of its branches in bloom. Two severed animal legs are tied around its trunk and an illegible plaque hangs from one of its branches. A lyre, a pan pipe, an animal jawbone and a bow are gathered at the base of the tree. The highly allegorical nature of the work uses obscure symbols, rather than a distinct narrative, to convey meaning and could possibly be read as an allegory of physical pleasure overcoming virtue.

See also
Type of artwork: 

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance information, is based on historic information and may not be currently accurate or complete. Research on objects is an ongoing process, but the information about this object may not reflect the most current information available to CMA. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

Is something not working on this page? Please email

Request a digital file from Image Services that is not available through CC0, a detail image, or any image with a color bar. If you have questions about requesting an image, please email