Appliqué with the image of Priapus

A solid bronze appliqué representing Priapus, the god of fertility. Observing the flat base of the piece and the projecting iron spike, we can conclude that this effigy was located on a box or piece of furniture in wood or bronze. Or perhaps, given the nature of the piece, it could have been placed on some garden post.

He is represented as an adult with long locks of hair and a thick curly beard. He wears a toga tied over his left shoulder leaving the right shoulder uncovered. In his hands, and with the aid of the toga, he is holding a quantity of fruit which is balanced on his extended erect phallus.

In Greek mythology, Priapus is a minor rustic fertility god, protector of livestock of and vegetation. He is represented with an enormous phallus in permanent erection, symbol of the fecundity of nature. He was worshipped as a protector of flocks of sheep and goats, of bees, wine and fruits and vegetables of the orchard as well as of fish.

The Romans used to place his statues in in their gardens, normally in the form of a crude herms of fig-tree wood painted a maroon colour (due to this the god was described as ruber or rubicundus) with an enormous erect phallus, cradling collected fruit in his gown and with a sickle or cornucopia in his hand. His role was to guarantee an abundant harvest. Priapus kept the evil eye away and protected property from thieves.

The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out from expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To extract the final piece the mould must be removed.


- ROLLAND, H. Bronzes Antiques de Haute Provence. Paris, 1965. Item 112.

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