The figures were bought in Rome, probably during the 5th Earl of Exeter’s Grand Tour of 1683-84.
The seated figure certainly represents Narcissus. The identity of the scantily-clad male figure is less clear. Until recently, he was thought to represent Phineus, a spurned lover of Andromeda, turned to stone by Perseus after causing trouble at the wedding of Perseus and Andromeda.
Both figures have notches cut into their bases. This relates to their originally having been mounted on the rims of two marble basins, piped for flowing water and located in the Marble Hall at Burghley. The 1688 Inventory records: “The Marble Salloon Roome, 2 Marble fountaines with figures on Them.”