- Reference number
- Rubens, Peter Paul (Flemish)
- Silenus or a Faun
- 181,5 cm x 68 cm
- Figura Humana
- On display
- Colección Real (Torre de la Parada, El Pardo-Madrid; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madird, antecámara del señor infante don Luis, 1772, nº 1003; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, cuarto de la reina-antecámara, 1794, nº 1003; Palacio Real, Madrid, antecámara de la reina, 1814-1818, nº 1003).
In classical mythology, Silenus was the guardian of forests. He was supposed to raise Bacchus when the latter was a child. Rubens depicts him in the customary manner: with goat ears and a scraggly beard, alluding to his condition as a wild being, and clothed only in buckskin. The mask on which he is leaning recalls his ties to the world of theater, as a Bacchic and festive deity.
Rubens once again drew on ancient sculpture for this figure, whose movement recalls some of Praxiteles' works, yet the closest model is an engraving by Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617), from which he took the position of the hands.
This work was made for the Torre de la Parada, a small royal palace near Madrid, and was often thought to be a portrait of the philosopher, Democritus.