Netherlands, 1st half 18th century
height 12 cm
This small group showing two fauns and two nymphs entwined in a bacchanalian dance translates a pictorial invention of Rubens into a statuette. The motif is taken from the painting known as The Feast of Venus in the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. The immediate model for the lead cast was a boxwood sculpture in the Kunstgewerbemuseum, Berlin, that is attributed to an artist in Rubens's circle, Lucas Faidherbe of Mechelen (1617-1697). The Basle collector Daniel Bruckner (1707-1781) mistakenly associated the prototype of the group with the Roman excavations in Augst and commented in 1763: "With regard to artistic value, this is the most noble piece to have been found among the sculptures in Augst, as, when making it, the artist forgot all sense of shame". The version in his collection, however, would only have been a cast after the original, which had by then been sold to a collection in England.