The "hunt for Praxiteles" involves identifying the most reliably documented statue types, described in the source texts, depicted on coins, and copied by later generations.

The Leaning Satyr

Attempts to identify this work and attribute it to Praxiteles are based on the literary sources, which mention three figures of satyrs by the master: one in bronze (possibly the Leaning Satyr); one in marble, known as the Megara Satyr, of which there is no description; and a third, considered by Praxiteles himself as one of his greatest masterpieces. The surviving copies fall into two distinct groups: the Leaning Satyr, and the Pouring Satyr. Several hundred copies, scattered throughout the Mediterranean basin, testify to the widespread diffusion of a statue type featuring a young, beardless, naked satyr with pointed ears and a panther skin tied like a scarf on his right shoulder, leaning on one elbow against the trunk of a tree. The face, which is slightly tilted, wears a faint smile with a mocking touch enhanced by the taut, rounded muscles of the cheeks.

The pivotal movement of the bust and head, and the position of the feet are suggestive of a figure preparing to push away from the tree-trunk rather than resting against it. Variations of the Leaning Satyr show numerous different attributes: a flute, a bunch of grapes, a pine garland, small horns…

The subject and style are clearly those of a sculptor of the mid-4th century BC. There is nothing preventing us from attributing the invention of this statue type to Praxiteles, but equally, there is nothing to prove it. A comparison with the composition and balance of the Apollo Sauroktonos, however, would seem to support the hypothesis. The original statue was probably created circa 340-330 BC.