Satyr Family with the Obelisk


Giovanni Battista Tiepolo ( Italian, 1696 - 1777 )

c. 1765
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General Description

Beside a truncated obelisk sits a family of satyrs surrounded by musical instruments and antique pottery. The female satyr holds her baby in one arm, while her male companion looks on, his back turned toward the viewer. In classical mythology, the satyr was an attendant of Bacchus, the god of the grape harvest, wine, ritual madness, and fertility. Represented with goatlike legs, hooves, a tail, a human torso, and pointed ears or horns, these mythical creatures were often associated with revelry and music making. In keeping with these attributes, a tambourine and a flute feature prominently in this composition. Giovanni Battista Tiepolo’s work belongs to a series of twenty-four prints called the Scherzi di Fantasia, published posthumously in an album. Consisting of bucolic episodes, magic scenes, and rustic fables, many of his prints include sculpturally rendered figures standing in the foreground before crumbling classical architecture.