A new self-portrait of Michelangelo? The statue of Pan at the Casino dell’Aurora in Rome. Part II: Testimonia (sketches, earlier inventories)

By Hatice Köroglu Çam (Rutgers ’22)

A 16th-century life-size marble statue, inspired by a sculptor’s deep passion for antiquities, shows the characteristic features of the Greek god Pan: pointed ears, short horns, goat-like legs, animal pelt, and erect phallus. It is the heavily-weathered Ludovisi Pan in the garden of Rome’s Casino dell’Aurora, which has stood outside in the area of the Villa Ludovisi for 400 years. Originally the sculpture was one of the pieces of the collection of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi (1595-1621-1632), the nephew of Alessandro Ludovisi (= Pope Gregory XV, reigned 1621-1623). Presumably even before the statue passed into the Cardinal’s possession, it was associated with Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475-1564), an identification taken for granted by the early nineteenth century.

‘Pan’ attributed to Michelangelo at the Casino dell’Aurora. Collection †HSH Prince
Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome (photo by the author).

Considering Michelangelo’s obsession with physical details and his perfection of nude male figures, it is challenging to be conclusive on the attribution of a damaged sculpture. My previous post “A new self-portrait of Michelangelo? The statue of Pan at the Casino dell’Aurora in Rome. Part I: Correspondences” argued for attribution to Michelangelo by using a good number of stylistic comparisons between the statue of Pan and the artist’s well-known works of art, including his sculptures the Moses, the Bacchus, and the David, and presenting significant artistic correspondences between them. I maintained however that the closest stylistic parallel is between the facial depiction of the Ludovisi Pan and the mask at the center of the box in Michelangelo’s sketch the Dream of Human Life (ca. 1533), where an identical appearance strongly reinforces the attribution to Michelangelo. That mask is widely considered to be a a self-portrait of Michelangelo. And so I argued that Pan’s face also displays a satirical self-portrait of Michelangelo, probably not the effort of a copyist.

Here I will examine a second drawing, a red-chalk sheet by Michelangelo now in Frankfurt’s Städel Museum. I also will discuss representations of the Ludovisi Pan in 18th century sketchbooks by principally Hamlet Winstanley (1723), Bernardino Ciferri (1710-30), Pompeo Batoni and Antonio Canova (1780), comparing these with a series of historical photographs of the statue from 1885. Moreover, this study explores Ludovisi and then Boncompagni Ludovisi inventory records, especially from 1633 and 1749; I underline the significance of the latter inventory, which shows the unusually high valuation placed on this statue. I should say at the outset that the reader will not find a certain document showing that this Pan is Michelangelo’s work—which of course would be the easiest scenario.

Michelangelo, Il Sogno (The Dream), ca. 1533, with detail, The Courtauld, London
Michelangelo, Grotesque Heads and Other Studies (recto) ca. 1525, with detail at right, Städel
Museum, Frankfurt

A significant representation of the Ludovisi Pan from the 18th century, and a remarkable connection

Of the hundreds of ancient sculptures in the collection of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, it is noteworthy that the Ludovisi Pan was one of the chief pieces that caught the attention and interest of 18th century artists. An unnoticed drawing of this Pan dated 1723 by Hamlet Winstanley at Corpus Christi College, Oxford, which I am the first to bring into the discussion of this statue, goes some way toward erasing doubts and questions about references to Michelangelo. This spectacular presentation drawing is of unusual importance, in that it articulates the statue of Pan in its once near-flawless state, and also establishes a connection between Michelangelo’s drawing at the Städel Museum and this particular statue.

Hamlet Winstanley, Statue of Pan, Villa Ludovisi Garden, 1723, Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Credit: L. C. Bulman, Georgian Group Journal 12 (2002) 64.

Hamlet Winstanley (1694-1756) made this drawing for Lord Coleraine (Henry Hare, 3rd Baron Coleraine, (1693-1749), who was an English antiquary, politician, and active member of the Society of Antiquaries. In all, Winstanley produced some twelve copies for Coleraine from the Ludovisi and Medici collections in Rome. After Coleraine’s death, his collection of prints and drawings of antiquities was given to Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Winstanley’s letter to James Stanley (10th Earl of Derby) from 22 January 1724 provides a snippet of information about his visit to Rome and his artistic work there. Winstanley wrote: “Since I’ve been Rome I have drawn Several Antique figures (for) my Lord Colerain, …” Here Wistanley mentions merely ancient sculptures, and does not mention the modern one he had drawn, namely the Ludovisi Pan (1723). His sketch does not identify it as by Michelangelo, and it is possible that he thought the piece was ancient.

Winstanley’s drawing carefully shows the anatomical forms of this sculpture, and so functions as a mirror of the sculptor’s meticulous depiction of the whole half-human, half-goat body of this god Pan. The painstaking effort of Winstanley to convey all the surface features of this statue showcases his deep interest in it. At first glance, the most striking features of this Pan are how the Winstanley depicts the very detailed facial expression with curly, long forked beard; the pronounced veins on the right hand through the right arm and on the left arm; and also the gestures of each hand holding the animal pelt, especially the curving index finger of the left hand of this muscular Pan. All of these depictions explicitly reveal not only Winstanley’s but also the sculptor’s obsession with the figure’s attributes. In the depiction of the facial expression, we can see a fastidious rendering of the elongated eyes and eyebrows, and of the curls between the eyebrows and forehead, plus a long and broken nose, open mouth, the curvilinear and organic forms of a long forked beard, and a mustache that curves down. Exaggerated pointed ears, short horns, an animal pelt (presumably a deerskin) hanging over his right shoulder, but especially goat-like legs and animal hooves represent the figure as the god Pan.

It is important to stress that what Winstanley provides us with this drawing are the finer details of the Ludovisi Pan that have now largely disappeared. In particular, the curls on the figure’s face, the long and curly forked beard, the highly elaborated details on the animal pelt hanging over his right shoulder, and the long curly fur on the goat-like legs are mostly not visible today. Considering Winstanley’s very detailed depiction of the face and beard, and comparing these details with other 18th-century other drawings and sketches, as well as historical and archival photographs from 1885 and 1986, I have come to the conclusion (to be discussed at length in Part III of this study) that the original statue has deteriorated quite severely over time. The forked beard seems badly damaged; nevertheless, even in its present state it recalls again Michelangelo’s own forked beard style in his portraits by other artists and his self-portraits.

Now, a drawing located in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford—formerly attributed to Raphael (1483 – 1520) and the school of Michelangelo—has some relevance here. This drawing (on the verso) shows a nude man seen from behind, in addition to other studies. At the top left of the sheet, there is a depiction of a head. The depiction of the beard of this figure is very close to the artistic style of Pan’s forked beard before it was damaged; Winstanley’s drawing clearly shows that similarity.

Nude Man seen from behind, and other studies (WA1846.259), formerly
attributed to Raphael (1483 – 1520), School of Michelangelo Buonarroti (1475 – 1564). Ashmolean Museum, Oxford.

More significantly, there is a close connection between the Oxford piece by Winstanley and a red-chalk sheet by Michelangelo from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. In the Städel Museum piece, there are heads and torsos of various grotesque figures on the recto, dated 1525. Two of them are faun-like creatures. On the left of the sheet (not far left), there is a depiction of a faun-like figure, who looks “fierce,” with an open mouth, tense face and quite exaggerated ears and horns, and a muscular torso. One immediately thinks of the mask in the middle of the box in Michelangelo’s Dream of Human Life.

Scholarly support is strong for the authenticity of this Städel Museum piece. Achim Gnann in Michelangelo: The Drawings of a Genius (2010) provides a very detailed description of the verso and recto of this sheet, and points out that many scholars such as M. Hirst, P. Joannides, H. Chapman, E. Jacobsen, and M. Delacre agreed that both sides of the sheet are the master’s own hand. Leonard Barkan in his Michelangelo: A Life on Paper (2011) concurs. In Michelangelo: Divine Draftsman & Designer (2017), Carmen C. Bambach exhibits both verso and recto of this sheet and explains “scattered incidental jottings by pupils also appear on the Frankfurt verso, but the main motifs on the recto and verso are forceful enough that they may be mostly the master’s autographs.”

A comparison between the facial expression of the red chalk faun-like figure on the left of the Frankfurt sheet by Michelangelo to the depiction of Oxford drawing by Hamlet Winstanley reveals very close similarities in appearance and in artistic style, with variation of some forms. The depiction of the eyes, the shape of the eyebrows, and the treatment of the lower forehead between the eyebrows are the same. Significantly, the long, broken, and wide-shaped nose and wide-shaped nostrils are almost identical. Unfortunately, today these details on the actual Ludovisi Pan statue have largely disappeared, but are visible in 1885 photos, confirming the accuracy of Winstanley’s drawing.

There are more points of contact between the Frankfurt sheet and the Ludovisi Pan. In the drawing, the depiction of each iris of the eyes reflects the artist’s Mannerist style, in that the irises seem to be looking in different directions; the direction of the irises of our Pan seems not exactly the same but is slightly close. Even though Ludovisi Pan does not have teeth, the open mouth and the shape of the lip are almost the same. Also, the depiction of the mustache of this figure is very similar to Ludovisi Pan, especially when compared to Pan’s historical photos.

There are also dissimilarities in some details. The most striking one is the depiction of the beard; the Städel Museum sheet shows a very different beard from our Pan, but it is still forked. Plus the horns and the ears seem more exaggerated than those of the Ludovisi Pan. Still it is fair to state that the whole appearance of the face in the Städel Museum drawing is evocative of the Ludovisi Pan. In other words, the culmination of stylistic similarities demonstrates that Ludovisi Pan reflects Michelangelo’s artistic style.

Other 18th century representations on paper of the Ludovisi Pan

Another significant sketch of the Ludovisi Pan is in the hand of the noted portrait painter Pompeo Batoni (1708-1787), today found in Richard Topham’s collection (1671-1730) at Eton College (Palma I 4, p. 133 fig. 136). Batoni first arrived in Rome in May 1727, and so presumably sketched the Ludovisi Pan between that time and before Topham’s death on 7 September 1730. It is one of many Batoni drawings in the Topham collection of sculptures and artifacts from the Ludovisi collection, the others being largely ancient, such as the Pan and Daphnis ( Palma I 4, fig. 132), the group of Amor and Psyche (Palma I 4, fig. 114), and Silenus (Palma I 4, fig. 131.)

Pompeo Batoni, Statue of Pan (Palma I 4 p. 133), by 1730.

Batoni’s sketch of the Ludovisi Pan highlights the muscular depiction of the figure—an obsession of Michelangelo’s—and in so doing creates tactile forms. Batoni’s depiction of the upper body of this Pan is especially reminiscent of Michelangelo’s muscular men in the master’s drawings, paintings, and sculptures. Like Winstanley’s drawing, Batoni documents details now lost to us: pronounced pointed ears, a long and curly forked beard, and long curly fur on the goat-like legs. When comparing both Winstanley’s and Batoni’s depiction of the beard with the Ashmolean Museum sheet, we can easily notice the stylistic similarities. I should note that both Winstanley’s and Batoni’s depictions of the head and each of the hands seem smaller and inconsistent with the Pan’s entire muscular torso—especially the hands, which are shown as very elegant.

Another 18th century drawing that focuses on the exaggerated musculature of the Ludovisi Pan is by Bernardino Ciferri. He died in 1760, but his works were obtained by Richard Topham in the era 1720-1730, and in that way came to Eton College. So presumably Ciferri made his drawing of the Pan before 1730. A comparison of Ciferri’s rendering of the facial expression to the depiction of the details found in Batoni (as well as other artists) and also to the original statue, it is quite clear that Ciferri aimed intentionally to differentiate the appearance of the face by emphasizing the muscular body of the figure with the characteristic features of the god Pan. In other words, this different face reflects the artist’s own interpretation.

Bernardino Ciferri, Statue of Pan, ca. 1710-1730. Credit: Eton College Library

On closer examination of Ciferri’s treatment of the anatomy, especially on the right hand side, we can recognize a careful rendering of the ribcage, all the muscular details, and the veins of the right hand—anatomical details visible in the photos of 1885 and indeed also those of 1986. Yet on the whole, Ciferri’s muscular body depiction seems more exaggerated than other artists’ representations of Ludovisi Pan, while the small head and elegant hand seem not entirely consistent with the other parts of the body. 

In contrast to Winstanley, Batoni, and Ciferri’s drawings, Antonio Canova (1757-1822) depicts the Ludovisi Pan coexisting on the same sheet with an ancient sculpture group, namely the Ludovisi Pan and Daphnis (now at the Palazzo Altemps). This important sheet, dated 1780, showing the ancient and Renaissance sculptures together, raises several important questions about this famed artist’s approach to the Pan statue and its physical location at this time period.

Antonio Canova, Statue of Pan and Group of Pan and Daphnis, 1780.
Bassano, Museo Civico (Neg. E. b. 15 1026) (Palma I 4 p. 162)

The first question: why would an artist choose to draw a modern statue next to a very important Pan and Daphnis, an ancient group that is a Roman copy of the Hellenistic original? As Francis Haskell has noted, in 1556 Ulisse Aldrovandi recorded this group in the Cesi sculpture garden—a very important source for Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi’s later sculpture collection. Ulisse Aldrovandi described it as “one of those most beautiful works that one sees in Rome. And perhaps it is one of the three satyrs which Pliny celebrates so much.”

Hendrix van Cleve III, Sculpture Garden of Cardinal Cesi, 1584. Credit: K. M. Bentz, Journal of Society of Architectural Historians 72 (2013)

Beatrice Palma (I 4, Fig. 169) gives the exact date of Canova’s sheet that combines the Ludovisi Pan with an ancient group of sculptures: it was sketched between 29 April and 5 May 1780. Were both pieces located in the same place? According to Haskell, in 1780 the Pan and Daphnis group seems to have been located in the Villa Ludovisi outside the Palazzo Grande. More precisely, Haskell reports that “this ancient piece was given to Ludovisi Family in the Summer of 1622 and eleven years later was recorded in the ‘Bosco delle Statue’ outside the Palazzo Grande until the early years of the nineteenth century with the other statues. Between 1885 and 1890 this ancient statue was taken with the other statues in the collection to the new palace built for the Prince of Piombino”, i.e., the extension of the Palazzo Grande that was constructed on the Via Veneto, today the US Embassy in Rome. In 1901, the Italian government purchased the Pan and Daphnis and it was moved to the Museo Nazionale Romano.

Pan and Daphnis, Roman copy of a Hellenistic original. The Boncompagni Ludovisi Collection, Palazzo Altemps, Rome (photo by the author)

Though much is uncertain, it seems appropriate to suggest that Canova’s depiction of the Ludovisi Pan and the Pan and Daphnis group together on the same sheet both announces the importance of this marble Ludovisi Pan, and may give a clue about its location in 1780. Even though on the sheet Canova’s depiction of the Ludovisi Pan seems a little unfinished—especially the right arm—his rendering of the head and face corroborate the disappeared details pictured by Winstanley, Batoni and Ciferri, especially the long forked beard. Considering the well-known skill of these artists, all of their depictions of the Pan statue may be accepted as definitive testimonia in our quest for attribution.

Testimony from Guercino?

The collection of Sir Robert Witt at the Courtauld Institute Galleries in London holds an intriguing drawing executed ca. 1625 by Guercino (inv. no 1346) that seems quite relevant to my inquiry. It shows a satyr with a forked beard furtively watching two seated nymphs from behind a tree. The depiction of the satyr is evocative of the Ludovisi Pan in some important respects, especially the forked beard, muscular shoulders, and goat-like appearance of the upper part of the right leg. Other key details of the Guercino drawing differ from the statue, most importantly the satyr’s shaded face, long horns, and exaggerated horn-like ears.

Guercino, Two Nymphs and A Satyr, ca. 1625. Pen and brown ink, brush with brown wash, 20.3 x 13.7 cm (8 x 53_s in.) London, Courtauld Institute of Art Gallery, D.1952.RW.1346

We have no certain information about precisely when Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi first came into possession of the Pan sculpture, and whether he acquired it by purchase or gift. However we are sure that starting in late 1621 Guercino had an important commission from the Ludovisi to decorate ceilings of the Casino dell’Aurora, returning to his native Cento only after the death of Pope Gregory XV on 8 July 1623. Given this chronology, it is quite possible that Guercino took inspiration from the Ludovisi Pan and drew this satyr and two nymphs even as late as ca. 1625, despite the fact he was out of Rome. This satyr may be read as a different representation of the Ludovisi Pan. Indeed it may be a bit earlier than 1625, and a preparatory sketch for the fresco of a Satyr that Guercino executed in the Casino dell’ Aurora, now no longer visible but seen as recently as 1904, as T. Corey Brennan has shown in Storia dell’ Arte 157 (2022).

An enormous fig leaf for the Ludovisi Pan

After examining all these drawings and sketches from the 17th and 18th century, one factor is quite important: none depicted this Pan with an enormous fig leaf. All of these works of art explicitly show the statue with its erect phallus. Only the historical photographs from 1885 show this Pan, now located in a temple-like structure (aedicula) on a garden path of the north-central portion of the Villa Ludovisi along the Aurelian Wall, with a fig leaf covering its genitalia. For these images we owe Prince Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi (1845-1913), who oversaw a comprehensive photography campaign of the exterior portions of the Villa Ludovisi before the destruction and development of its greater part in the latter half of the 1880s. It is hard to say when this fig leaf was hung on the genitalia of this Pan because the latest sketch we possess, that by Canova in 1780, shows the Pan without it. Whoever decided to add a fig-leaf to the statue drilled a hole into the marble of the phallus to fasten it.

Detail of the Pan statue in 1885, close by the Aurelian Walls that bounded the Villa Ludovisi to the north. Photo: Prince Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi (1845-1913). Collection †HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.

There are many points in the 19th century where ideas about decorum may have influenced the owners of the statue. Luigi Boncompagni Ludovisi, Prince of Piombino from 1805 until his death in 1841, had the reputation of adding fig-leaves to sculptures in the family collection. The Irish novelist and travel writer Sydney, Lady Morgan (1781-1859), who sojourned in Italy in 1819-1820, is said to have told Prince Luigi she would accept his invitation to revisit the Villa Ludovisi “at the fall of the leaf“. The drive toward artistic modesty only intensified during the reigns of Popes Gregory XVI (1831-1846) and Pius IX (1846-1878). Indeed, Pius IX personally visited the Villa Ludovisi on 10 September 1853 “in order to view the antiquities lately found in the Garden of Sallustius“, as was widely reported at the time. Official events such as this might provide a possible occasion for the production of fig-leaves.

Whatever the date, the state of the Pan with an enormous fig leaf underlines its problematic subject matter. Indeed, its erect phallus surely negatively affected its attribution to Michelangelo in the second half of the 19th century.   

Documentary evidence from the inventories

Having reviewed this testimony for the physical state of the Ludovisi Pan in the 18th and 19th centuries, we can now turn our focus to the family’s inventory records, and how they value this statue. It would seem that the 28 January 1633 inventory record of the Villa Ludovisi (Palma I 4 doc. 13 p. 78 no. 262), compiled soon after the death of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi, mentions for the first time this statue as a part of his collection. It appears in the ‘Galleria del Bosco’, also known as “the Labyrinth” a formal garden within the Villa Ludovisi that extended north of the Palazzo Grande, which the Cardinal used as a secondary space for exhibiting sculptures in his collection.

Plan of the Villa Ludovisi, published in G.B. FaldaLi giardini di Roma: con le loro piante alzate e vedute in prospettiva (1670), with annotations showing the location of the Galleria del Bosco = ‘Labyrinth’ (site of Pan statue in 1633 inventory) and the “Niche” with statue reported in the 1641 inventory and following.

In this “Gallery” is reported “an ancient marble sarcophagus, above four columns, with diverse bas-reliefs, with a figure underneath of a satyr of life-size height, set on the ground between two cypresses” [Un Pilo antico di marmo sopra quattro colonne con diversi bassirilievi, con sotto una figura d’un satiro alto del naturale posato in Terra trà due Cipressi]. Palma (I 4 p. 78) identifies this satyr with our Pan. This 1633 inventory does not attribute the sculpture to Michelangelo, though it explicitly notes that a room in the Palazzo Grande had two herms in metal (i.e., bronze) said to be by the master’s hand (Palma I 4 doc. 13 p. 74 nos. 75-76).

A century later, in a 29 December 1733 inventory (Palma I 4 doc. 29 p. 132 no. 352), we find listed as the sole work of art on the “avenue facing the hunting-dog house that belongs to the Casino—a large statue standing on a stone pedestal between two cypresses near the road leading to Porta Pinciana” [Viale in faccia alla Braccheria corrispondente al Casino—Una statua grande in piedi sopra piedestallo di muro in mezzo a due cipressi vicino alla strada che va a Porta Pinciana“. The mention of the two cypresses reminds one of the placement of the satyr in 1633.

If so, what happened to the four columns and the sarcophagus? Already in a 1641 inventory of the “outside” sculptures in the Villa Ludovisi, listed right after the colossal Juno (today in Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts) that stood at the north boundary of the Villa Ludovisi hard against the Aurelian wall, one finds (Palma I 4 doc. 16 p. 84 nos. 6-7) “A statue—a Satyr of the natural [size] with his adornment. A decorated large sarcophagus placed above the decoration of said Satyr with its lid on which sarcophagus there are two reclining figures” [Una statua un Satiro del naturale con suo adornamento. Un Pilo Grande historiato posto sopra L’adornamento di detto Satiro con il suo Coperchio nel qual pilo vi sono due figure colche]. In an immensely valuable 1670 view of the Villa Ludovisi by Giovanni Battista Falda (1643-1678), indeed one can see a structure against the city wall with a facade of four evenly spaced columns, with what appears to be a sarcophagus on top. One important point: the structure stands at the top of a long and straight path precisely on axis with the main entrance of the Palazzo Grande. We know that this avenue was called the “Viale del Satiro”—the “Avenue of the Satyr”.

Detail of plan of the Villa Ludovisi, published in G.B. Falda, Li giardini di Roma: con le loro piante alzate e vedute in prospettiva (1670), showing against the Aurelian Wall the “Niche” (at left) and the colossal statue of ‘Juno’ (at right).

The 1733 Boncompagni Ludovisi inventory (Palma I 4 doc. 29 p. 132 no. 358-359) offers further information. We learn that “attached to the aforementioned [i.e., Aurelian] walls facing the so-called Avenue of the Satyr” is “a large niche supported by four columns faced in marble, above it a large urn [i.e., sarcophagus] with various figures in low relief, and other ornamentations; under this niche, and within it [is] a satyr standing in marble on a small marble pedestal” [Una nicchia grande sostenuta da quattro colonne di facciata di Marmo, sopra di essa un’Urna grande con diverse figure di basso rilievo, ed altri ornamenti, sotto della qual nicchia, ed entro di essa un Satiro in piedi di marmo sopra piccolo piedestallo di marmo].

To this notice we can join the inventory of the Topham collection, which as we have seen was compiled ca. 1720-1730. That lists right after the ‘Faustina’ (= colossal Juno), a “statue of the God Pan inside a niche, and above, a bas-relief with three divisions, with two figures for each one, and above two reclining portraits of a man and a woman” [Statua del Dio Pan dentro una nicchia e sopra un Basso relievo con tre spartimenti , con due figure per ciascheduno e sopra due Ritratti a giacere d ‘uomo e di Donna] (Palma I 4 doc. 28 p. 125 no. 108).

Most significantly, the Topham inventory calls the statue “the God Pan”. And its description of the sarcophagus allows us to confidently identify it with one that came, together with a non-matching lid, to Cardinal Ludovisi from the Cesarini collection (T. Schreiber, Die antiken Bildwerke der Villa Ludovisi in Rom nos. 212 and 213). Today the assemblage is in Rome’s Villa Ada (for full discussion see especially M. E. Micheli in Palma I 6 pp. 134-140; also Palma 2012 p. 157). As it happens, sometime in the years 1720-1730 Giovanni Domenico Campiglia (1692-1775) drew this sarcophagus and its lid, with his work now also at Eton College. In the Topham Collection the lid and Bernadino Ciferri’s sketch of the Pan were catalogued together: volume Bm.12 fol. 108 (lid), 109-110 (Pan), 123-124 (sarcophagus proper).

Sarcophagus and lid (Schreiber 212-213) that originally topped the “Niche” with four columns at the top of the Viale del Satiro in the Villa Ludovisi, now in Rome’s Villa Ada. Credit: Palma I 6 p. 135.

These testimonia from 1641 and the 1720s-1730s would seem to settle the question of the final placement of the Pan statue. But do they? Giuseppe Felici in his Villa Ludovisi in Roma (1952) states flatly that until the early 19th century the satyr sculpture in the “niche” was a completely different figure, an ancient copy of the “Pouring Satyr” (now in the Museo Nazionale Romano Palazzo Altemps), and that is what gave the name to the “Viale del Satiro”. Palma herself equivocates on whether the satyr sculpture in the “niche” was originally the “Pouring Satyr” or the Ludovisi Pan: see especially Palma I 4 p. 211; also p. 84, on 1641, against p. 125 on 1720-1730, and p. 132, on 1733. In Part III, after a survey of further testimonia—especially that of early guidebooks—on the statue, I will offer my answer to the question, and explain how Felici made what is in fact a mistake.

The high value placed on that statue of a satyr in the “niche” emerges clearly from an inventory record of 31 March 1749 of the sculptures in the Villa Ludovisi (Palma I 4 doc. 31 p. 146 nos. 156-157). In a section devoted to the part of the collection placed at the “Walls of Rome”, we find: “The famous marble satyr in Greek style of natural (size) [Il famoso satiro di marmo in maniera greca al naturale]: 4000 scudi.” Then “Urn above four columns that form an ornament for the aforementioned satyr, in Gothic style, with a lid of two figures reclining, in the manner of a tomb: 200 scudi.”

For comparison, the same 1749 inventory shows the value of Bernini’s Pluto and Proserpina as 10,000 scudi, and the Suicidal Gaul group as 15,000 scudi. Of statues exhibited outside in the Villa Ludovisi, only three earn a higher valuation, each of them colossal in scale: a Dionysus and satyr group (Schreiber no. 77, 11000 scudi), a reclining Silenus (Schreiber 137 and 138, 10,000 scudi), and the Great Battle Sarcophagus (Schreiber no. 186, 6000 scudi).

Left: Gian Lorenzo Bernini, The Rape of Proserpina, 1621–22, Galleria Borghese,
Rome. Right: “Paetus and Arria” (Ludovisi Gaul and Wife), Roman copy of a bronze original
of ca. 230-220 B.C. Boncompagni Ludovisi Collection, Palazzo
Altemps, Rome (photo by the author)

It is helpful to compare the value of the satyr in the “niche” in 1749 with that of the famed Dying Gaul in 1733, a Roman copy from a Hellenistic (230-220 BCE) original, once a Ludovisi possession, and now exhibited at the Capitoline Museums. As Paolo Coen has noted (The Art Market in Rome in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in the Social History of Art), in December 1733, upon the death of Princess Ippolita Ludovisi, the Marquis Alessandro Gregorio Capponi began negotiations with Cardinal Troiano d’Acquaviva for the purchase of the Dying Gaul. The starting price of 12,000 scudi, set by the sculptor Agostino Cornacchini, nephew of Cardinal Carlo Agostino Fabroni, was reduced to 6,000 scudi. In addition, in a 2018 contribution, Daniela Gallo (“Economic and Scholarly Appraisal of Ancient Marbles in Late 18th- Century Rome”) studies the purchase prices for the Museo Clementino Museums between 1772-1778. According to Gallo, in 1772 Princess Cornelia Constanza Barberini received 2600 scudi for the sale of a colossal statue of Juno. These examples open a window to rethink the relative value of statues in the 18th century, and shows that 4000 scudi is a value in a range that would be reserved for only the most valuable sculptures.

Left: Dying Gaul, Roman copy of a bronze original dating from ca. 230-220 B.C. Capitoline Museums, Rome. Right: Juno (Barberini’s Hera), Musei Vaticani, Museo Pio Clementino (photo by the author)

One further note. By the time of the 1885 photo campaign of the Villa Ludovisi, we find that the “niche” against the Aurelian Wall at the top of the Viale del Satiro has been transformed into an aedicula. The four columns that formed the facade of the original assemblage have been respaced, a pair grouped at either side. The structure now has a traditional pediment with the head of a Medusa at center; an additional pair of columns has been added as supports to the roof at rear. A fence closes off open areas of the aedicula, protecting our Pan (now with a fig-leaf) within. As for the sarcophagus and its lid, they are repositioned on the ground along the wall a few dozen meters to the east. In Part III I will discuss the probable date of that transformation.

Left: ‘Aedicula’ for the Pan statue in 1885, replacing the earlier ‘Niche’ topped by a late Roman sarcophagus and lid with married pair. Right: just a few meters east of the ‘Aedicula’, colossal Roman statue of ‘Juno’, and to its right (indicated by arrow), the sarcophagus in question.
Photo credits: Prince Ignazio Boncompagni Ludovisi (1845-1913). Collection †HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome.


The representations of the Ludovisi Pan created by 18th-century artists, principally Winstanley, Batoni, Canova, and Ciferri, demonstrate not only their great interest in this 16th-century marble sculpture, but also its importance among other pieces in the collection of Cardinal Ludovico Ludovisi. More significantly, their artworks, which show the former state of this now-damaged sculpture, provide an invaluable opportunity to compare the Ludovisi Pan’s stylistic forms with Michelangelo’s work of art.

The very detailed work by Winstanley especially shows how this statue was inspirational for the artist. Indeed, the stylistic correspondence between the Frankfurt Michelangelo sheet and Winstanley’s Oxford drawing should be seen as one of the pieces of evidence for the attribution to the master. Furthermore, Canova’s sketch showing the Ludovisi Pan and the ancient statue group of Pan and Daphnis together in the same sheet should be read for his high regard for these sculptures. Like the drawings and sketches from the 18th century, historical photographs from 1885 also provide a chance to compare the former state and present state of the statue. Together, this evidence reveals that this Pan has suffered an unfortunate loss of detail, especially in the face, which has caused the few modern scholars who have seen the sculpture to undervalue it. In addition to these representations of this statue, the inventory records through the mid-18th century (especially that of 1749, that may suggest a high price for the statue) should be read as important documentary evidence for rethinking the Ludovisi Pan, a task that we shall return to in Part III.

Principal works referenced

Bambach, C. C. Michelangelo, Divine Draftsman & Designer. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2017.

Barkan, L. Unearthing the Past: Archaeology and Aesthetics in the Making of Renaissance Culture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1999.

Brennan, T. C. “L’archivio Boncompagni Ludovisi e gli affreschi di Guercino per il Casino dell’ Aurora”. Storia dell’ Arte 157 (2022) 1-8.

Brooks, J., and N. E. Silver. Guercino: Mind to Paper. Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2006.

Bulman, L. C. “The market for commissioned drawings after the antique”. The Georgian Group Journal 12 (2002): 59-73.

Candilio, D. and B. Palma Venetucci. “Alcune novità sulla dispersione della Collezione Ludovisi”. Eidola 9 (2012): 141-163.

Gallo, D. “Economic and Scholarly Appraisal of Ancient Marbles in Late 18th-Century Rome”, in P. Coen (ed.), The Art Market in Rome in the Eighteenth Century: A Study in the Social History of Art, 199-210. Leiden: Brill, 2018.

Gnann, A. Michelangelo: The Drawings of a Genius. Stuttgart and Berlin: Hatje Cantz, 2010.

Haskell, F.  Taste and the Antique: The Lure of Classical Sculpture. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1981.

Palma, B. (ed.), Museo Nazionale Romano. Le sculture 1.4: i Marmi Ludovisi, storia della Collezione. Milan: De Luca Editore, 1983.

Palma, B. L. de Lachenal and M.E. Micheli (eds.), Museo Nazionale Romano. Le sculture. I Marmi Ludovisi dispersi. I.6. Milan: De Luca Editore, 1986.

Russell, A. G. B.. Drawings by Guercino. London: E. Arnold & Co.,1923.

Russell, F. “The Derby Collection (1721-1735).” The Volume of the Walpole Society 53 (1987): 143–80.

Left: Hamlet Winstanley, Statue of Pan (1723), Corpus Christi College, Oxford. Credit: L. C. Bulman, Georgian Group Journal 12 (2002) 64. Right: Statue of Pan in July 2022, Collection †HSH Prince Nicolò and HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi, Rome (photo by the author).

Hatice Köroğlu Çam is a 2022 graduate of Rutgers University, with a degree in Art History, and has been researching the Statue of Pan under the direction of Professor T. Corey Brennan since January.  Hatice plans to pursue her academic journey towards a Ph.D. in Renaissance art. She expresses her sincerest gratitude to Professor Brennan for introducing her to this statue and encouraging her throughout the process of this research, for his translation of all Italian inventory documents, and his interpretations, guidance, and support. She extends a special thanks to HSH Princess Rita Boncompagni Ludovisi for her wonderful encouragement and inspiration for this project.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: