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Youth Playing a Pipe for a Satyr

Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione (Il Grechetto) (Italian, Genoa 1609–1664 Mantua)

Brush with colored oil paint; paper partly saturated with oil; lined
16 x 21-1/16 in. (40.6 x 53.5 cm)
Credit Line:
Gustavus A. Pfeiffer Fund, 1962
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The artist ventured here with spellbinding bravura into the bucolic world of satyrs and nymphs, attaining the effect of a deliberately unfinished easel painting. The satyr has finished playing his shepherd's pipe and sprawls out with hedonistic abandon as he listens to the beautiful youth take his turn on a pipe. The satyr may represent Pan or Marsyas, while the youth may be Apollo, Olympos, or Daphnis. None of the Classical myths provides an entirely consistent fit with the composition, but it evokes a gentle, idyllic contest. It may allude to the contrast between the passionate spirit of the Dionysian (as represented by the satyr) and the beauty and clarity of reason of the Apollonian (the youth), which, according to Renaissance and Baroque humanists, were the two opposing impulses of artistic creativity.

  • Provenance

    Sir William Richard Drake (1817–1890); Christie's, London, Drake sale, May 24-5, 1892 (part of no. 415); Dr. Francis Springell (Portinscale, Cumberland); Sotheby's, London, June 28, 1962, no. 39

  • Exhibition History

    The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Drawings and Prints: Selections from the Permanent Collection," January 12, 2004–April 4, 2004.

  • References

    James Byam Shaw Old Masters Drawings from the Collection of Dr. and Mrs. Francis Springell, October 15 - November 11, 1959. Ex. cat. P. & D. Colnaghi & Co, 1959, fig. no. pl. XIV, no. 53, ill.

    Drawings by Old Masters. Exhibition at The Royal Academy, Diploma Gallery. Royal Academy of Arts, London, London, 1953, no. 136.

    Die Weltkunst. Die Weltkunst, vol. 32, 1962, fig. no. no. 12, p. 15, ill.

    Jacob Bean "Form and Function in Italian Drawings: Observations on Several New Acquisitions." in The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, vol. 21, no. 7, New York, March 1963, fig. no. pl. 9, pp. 235-36, ill.

    Jacob Bean 100 European Drawings in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York Graphic Society, New York, 1964, cat. no. 34, fig. no. 34, ill.

    The Minneapolis Institute of Arts Fiftieth Anniversary Exhibition 1915-1966, 1965-1966.. Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Minneapolis, 1965.

    Jacob Bean, Felice Stampfle Drawings from New York Collections, Vol. II: The Seventeenth Century in Italy. Ex. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Morgan Library & Museum, New York, February 23-April 22, 1967, fig. no. pl. 77, no. 77, ill.

    Ann Percy, Anthony Blunt Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione: Master Draughtsman of the Italian Baroque. Ex. cat., Philadelphia Museum of Art (Sep. 17 - Nov. 28, 1971). Philadelphia, 1971, cat. no. 64, pp. 96-97, ill.

    Ann Percy Giovanni Benedetto Castiglione. Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1971, fig. no. no. 64, pp. 96-97, no.64, ill.

    Jacob Bean (but catalogue not signed), The Metropolitan Museum of Art Roman Artists of the 17th Century: Drawings and Prints. Exh. cat., November 2, 1976-January 16, 1977. New York, 1976.

    Jacob Bean, Lawrence Turcic 17th century Italian Drawings in The Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1979, cat. no. 115, fig. no. 115, p. 86, ill.

    Carmen C. Bambach, Nadine Orenstein, William M. Griswold, Allegra Pesenti Genoa: Drawings and Prints, 1530-1800 Exh. cat. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 1996, cat. no. 37, fig. no. no. 37, Cover and p. 40, ill.

  • See also
    In the Museum