AFTER ANTONIO CANOVA (1757-1822)
PROBABLY BELGIAN, FIRST HALF 20TH CENTURY
Overall the condition of the marble is very good, with minor dirt and wear to the surface consistent with age. The marble has natural greyish veining throughout. There are minor restorations to the proper left index finger and the proper right ring finger. There is some brownish staining, notably to the proper right foot, the side of the proper left foot, and to the bottom of the drapery at the back. There are a few small naturally occurring inclusions to the marble, including below the chest. There is a possible area with fill at the proper right elbow. There are small chips along the bottom edge.
"In response to your inquiry, we are pleased to provide you with a general report of the condition of the property described above. Since we are not professional conservators or restorers, we urge you to consult with a restorer or conservator of your choice who will be better able to provide a detailed, professional report. Prospective buyers should inspect each lot to satisfy themselves as to condition and must understand that any statement made by Sotheby's is merely a subjective, qualified opinion. Prospective buyers should also refer to any Important Notices regarding this sale, which are printed in the Sale Catalogue.
NOTWITHSTANDING THIS REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF BUSINESS PRINTED IN THE SALE CATALOGUE."
Private collection, a castle, Belgium, since before the 1950s
The story of Cupid and Psyche, originally from Apuleius' Metamorphoses or The Golden Ass, has been a well-loved iconography throughout the history of art. Famous depictions in art include the ancient Roman Cupid and Psyche in the Musei Capitolini, the fresco cycle by Raphael in the Villa Farnesina, and Antonio Canova's Psyche revived by Cupid's Kiss, in the Musée du Louvre. Often depicted with a butterfly as a symbol for the soul and of innocence, as on the present marble, sculptors frequently depicted Psyche herself with butterfly wings, to match the angelic ones of her lover Cupid.
At almost life-size, and with a smooth marble surface and air of Neoclassicism, the sculpture is certainly indebted to some of the masters of the late 18th and early 19th century. Compare, for example to Bertel Thorvaldsen's Psyche Holding the Flask for Venus, which shows Psyche in a similar pose and with a similar up-do as the present lot (Thorvaldsens Museum, inv. no. A821). However, the model for the present marble is clearly Antonio Canova's intimate group of Cupid and Psyche Standing (Louvre, inv. no. MR 1776): although lacking the figure of Cupid, the composition of Psyche is nearly identical. The present marble can be seen as an ode to Neoclassicism, and in particular to Antonio Canova.