Satyrs are represented either with the god Bacchus (see no. 82 in Giroire and Roger, Roman Art from the Louvre) or shown on their own in various activities, including making music, dancing and holding the infant Bacchus (nos. 214-215 in Simon, "Silenoi," in LIMC).
This statue is a Roman variation of the so-called Pouring Satyr, a type known in numerous copies, dated to circa 375-350 B.C., and attributed to Praxiteles. For two well-preserved copies in Dresden, see K. Knoll, et al., eds., Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden. Katalog der antiken Bildwerke, vol. 2, 2011, pp. 863 ff., no. 207 f. For a discussion of the debated identification of the original with a Satyr by Praxiteles mentioned by ancient authors as standing in the so-called Tripod Street in Athens see S. Kansteiner, et al., eds., Der Neue Overbeck, vol. 3, 2014, pp. 15 0ff., no. 40. For a similar garden fountain representing a young satyr pouring from a wineskin, which he carries on his shoulders, from the House of the Stags at Herculaneum, see B. Conticello, et al., Rediscovering Pompeii, p. 271, no. 191.
A satyr such as the one above probably would have been commissioned by a wealthy Roman to decorate his villa or gardens. The hortus, which could incorporate a colonnaded peristyle, fountains, and frescoes, as well as bronze and marble sculptures, reflected a ‘blending of Roman and Greek ideas and concepts’ (P. Roberts, Life and Death in Pompeii and Herculaneum, London, 2013, p. 148), and was the forum for showcasing the owner’s wealth and culture. With the development of aqueducts under emperor Augustus, the use of pressurized piped water for private houses revolutionized garden design. “Piped water allowed the development of fountains, which became a major feature of the new gardens. The ornamental use of water – the ultimate control of nature – became a vital part of the conspicuous display of wealth and status. When most ordinary citizens still used wells and cisterns, the ability to maintain fountains was a badge of pride, the first emperor had brought this piped water to the cities, so fountains, pools and watercourses also showed the benefits of, and dependence on, the new imperial order” (P. Roberts, op. cit, p. 154).
Bacchus’s association with nature, his mastery of the countryside and its produce (in particular wine), as well as relaxation and leisure, made him and his followers – satyrs, maenads and animals such as fauns and goats - a fitting choice for garden ornamentation. In particular, the use of satyrs as fountains can be explained in the close relation of these and other figures from the Bacchic circle to fresh spring water.