The son of Emil Cauer the Elder and a member of the large German family of sculptors, Robert Cauer the Elder was born in Dresden in 1831. After studying at the Academy of Art in Dusseldorf from 1851 to 1855 under Wilhelm von Schadow, Cauer joined his father and elder brother, Karl, and worked in the family studio in Kreuznach. There he continued the series of works begun by his father based on the fairy tale characters of the Grimm brothers, executing works such as Sleeping Beauty, Snow White and Puss in Boots. On the death of Jakob and Wilhelm Grimm, in 1861 and 1863 respectively, Cauer felt a great sense of loss at losing not only friends, but also the source for much of the inspiration for his work at that time, and as a tribute, executed a double portrait of the brothers. The literary theme continued to be prevalent in Cauer's work throughout the late 1850s and 1860s, as he produced pieces based on the characters of Goethe (d.1832) such as Hermann and Dorothea, Paul and Virginie and Lorelei. In 1870, Cauer, together with his brother Karl, set up an atelier in Rome. Remaining there until 1889, this period of Cauer's career was to be the most productive and successful.
The present work, entitled Der Lauschender Faun, was carved by Cauer in 1887, during the latter years of his stay in Rome. It is not known how many times the sculptor produced the composition, but a larger version, now in a private collection, bears the date 1889 (Masa, op cit., p. 139).