Perfume Burner Surmounted by a Satyr

Workshop of Desiderio da Firenze Italian

Not on view

This perfume burner and 1975.1.1396 are of exceptional size, complexity, and quality. Holes throughout the body of the piece as well as in the mouth and ears of the satyr would have allowed the scented smoke to escape from the interior. However, this particular object shows no signs of use, either suggesting that it served a purely decorative function or that the present bottom plate is a later replacement.
The fact that perfume burners of this model were inspired by Roman incense burners sometimes obscured their Renaissance origins. In 1719, the French antiquarian Bernard de Montfaucon illustrated this bronze in his influential book L'Antiquité expliquée et représentée en figures (Antiquity Explained and Represented in Figures). In the accompanying text, he identified it as a work from Roman antiquity and speculated that it might have been a cinerary urn.

Perfume Burner Surmounted by a Satyr, Workshop of Desiderio da Firenze (Italian, born Florence, active Padua, 1532–45), The cover and body are binary bronze (copper and tin, with traces of zinc, iron, nickel, silver, and antimony); the foot is cast in brass (copperzinc alloy with very minor amounts of tin, lead, and the usual copper impurities of iron, nickel, silver, and antimony).

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