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The Circle of the Dancing Faun

Stowe: The Grecian Valley



A copy of the Dancing Faun at Castle Howard The Dancing Faun at Stowe was most likely one copied from the original Medici Faun in the Tribuna room of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. A faun is the Roman equivalent of the Greek satyr--both of them woodland spirits with a mixture of animal and human features, often including horns, hooves, and a tail. Fauns are often shown as companions of Bacchus, who presided over drinking revels that included music and dancing. The Medici Faun has cymbals in each hand, and under his right foot is a scabellum, or foot clapper, with which he beats time. Bevington reports that the Dancing Faun was originally located near Lee's Bastion by 1748 before being moved to a site in front of the Temple of Bacchus. He suggests that in 1751 it was replaced there by Coucher's Obelisk and moved to the Grecian Valley.

Located appropriately at the northeast end of the Valley near the Fane of Pastoral Poetry, the Dancing Faun commanded the center of a circle of sculptures of shepherds and shepherdesses. These had originally surrounded Queen Caroline's Monument when it stood in the Queen's Theatre across the reflecting pool from the Rotunda in the Western Garden.

The photograph below shows two of these statues which had been located in Buckingham and were restored in 2009 to their place in the garden.

Shepherd and Shepherdess in the Circle of the Dancing Faun

The National Trust has plans to restore the Dancing Faun to the center of his circle in the coming years as well as to restore other sculptures to their proper places along the northern edge of the Grecian Valley.

This page was created on 23 March 2010.

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John D. Tatter, Birmingham-Southern College, jtatter@bsc.edu