Beware the Satyress!

French Art Deco Terracotta Satyress Bookends Signed J. Descamps for Louis Lourioux (LEO Design)


A Satyr is the Greek mythological "nature spirit"—bestial, feral, sexually insatiable.  Called Sátyros by the Greeks, they were semi-divine, often found accompanying Dionysius, the god of wine, music and randy living.  Satyrs lived in the wild—in forests or in the mountains—were always male and they were "perpetually tumescent."  These tricksters would interact with humans to make mischief or to seduce them.  Satyrs have been portrayed in evolving ways: originally as a man with a horse's legs and ears; later more typically human; and, eventually, a man with the legs and ears of a goat.  When Greek mythology started to inform and blend with Roman mythology, the satyr seems to have been conflated with Pan (a faun).  It was during the Roman Era that the first female satyrs were portrayed.

While satyrs could be dangerous pranksters, they were also thought to possess a certain worldly wisdom—if it could be coaxed from them.  They could be irresistibly charming—often portrayed already engaged with the beautiful and willing (human) objects of their attraction.

In art and literature, female satyrs—Satyresses—are much less frequently found than their male counterparts (though Michelangelo and other Italian Renaissance artists did portray them).  And I did find this impressive pair of French Satyress bookends, capturing the aesthetic transition from the Art Nouveau to the Art Deco periods.  They are cast crisply in terracotta, sculpted by Joe Descamps (1869-1950) for the ceramics studio of Louis Lourioux (1874-1930).  Descamps was a talented French sculptor and jewelry designer who came of age in the Art Nouveau period.  These wonderfully modeled bookends are a work of art.  Click on the photo above to learn more about them.



Though our Greenwich Village store is now permanently closed, LEO Design is still alive and well!  Please visit our on-line store where we continue to sell Handsome Gifts (

We also can be found in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, at The Antique Center of Strabane (

Or call to arrange to visit our Pittsburgh showroom (by private appointment only).  917-446-4248