Marsyas

Artist: Balthasar Permoser (German, Kammer, near Otting, Chiemgau, Bavaria 1651–1732 Dresden)

Date: ca. 1680–85

Culture: German, executed Rome or Florence

Medium: Marble on a black marble socle inlaid with light marble panels

Dimensions: Overall with socle (confirmed): H. 27 x W. 17 3/8 x D. 11 1/8 in. (68.6 x 44.1 x 28.3 cm);
Height of socle (confirmed): H. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Rogers Fund and Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 2002

Accession Number: 2002.468

Description

Flayed alive after losing a musical contest to the god Apollo, the satyr Marsyas screams in the midst of his torture. Every aspect of the figure, from squinting eyes to torn tongue and flamelike hair, contributes to this image of torment. Early in his career, the sculptor Permoser worked in Florence, where this bust likely was carved. It is his personal response to Gianlorenzo Bernini's dramatic style, especially the Damned Soul of about 1619 (Palazzo di Spagna, Rome). While important sculptures by Pietro and Gianlorenzo Bernini are represented in the Museum's collection, Marsyas is our first work by Permoser, who helped to transmit the Italian Baroque style to Germany when he returned to his native Dresden.

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