In Greek mythology, legendary creatures are typically not the hero of a story, but they often play a key role in advancing the narrative. Hand-carved in northeastern Italy, this Vicenza limestone sculpture illustrates such a being. It is inspired by the iconic 16th and 17th century Baroque sculptures found in Rome, Naples, Venice, and Genoa.
Our mythological Triton (the generic term used to describe a merman) is actually an ichthyocentaur named Bythos. Ichtyocentaurs had the unique appearance of the upper body of a man and the forelegs of a horse with a fish tail. There are only two such entities in Greek mythology: the brothers Aphros (personified as “sea-foam”) and Bythos (“sea-depths”). According to legend, the brothers were present when the goddess Aphrodite was birthed from the sea. The two sea centaurs escorted Aphrodite to the shore, ensuring her safety. As a reward for their kind deed, the two brothers were placed in the sky forever as the constellation Pisces.
Bythos is always depicted in art with a beard, as seen in our sculpture. His head is tilted back and a shell in his left hand is pressed to his lips. A large, lidded jar is in Bythos’ right hand, pressed against his torso and above the hoof, which is tucked underneath his body. His scaled tail is curled in the back, forming a volute. Beneath the animal appendages is a rectangular plinth that has been faintly textured with linear carvings.
The statue has been hollowed out all the way from the shell to the base of the piece, allowing this carved sea centaur sculpture to be used as a fountain element.
CONDITION: Good condition with minor wear and nicks. Stone is natural material that can become darker or lighter from the elements. Some areas of stone have developed a speckled black patina.