The details of this late 19th century Italian alabaster carving of Eros and Psyche are incredibly intricate. So too is the story of Eros and Psyche.
Psyche (which means “soul” in ancient Greek) was a mortal woman with unparalleled grace and beauty. Her beauty was so captivating that people would gather from far and wide to admire her. This did not sit well with Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty and love, as she felt that her followers were neglecting to worship her. Aphrodite sent her son Eros (Cupid in Roman mythology) to deal with this problem. His plan was to shoot Psyche with one of his arrows and cause her to fall in love with the vilest of creatures. However, upon seeing Psyche, Eros immediately fell in love with her and could not fulfill his mission.
This carving depicts Eros with an arm around Psyche, their heads slightly touching. The two birds at Psyche’s knee are doves, which are strong symbols of love. They are typically associated with Aphrodite, meaning Eros would have access to them. Notice the differences in the two figures’ wings: Eros has typical cherub wings, with pronounced feathers, whereas Psyche has more rounded butterfly wings, which is usually how she is represented. Psyche holds a large rose in her left hand, probably a gift from Eros, as the rose flower is closely associated with him. Psyche’s right hand holds a bouquet of smaller flowers. Both figures are atop some floral vines and a rocky outcrop. On the back side of the statue, there is a larger flower.
The statue terminates at the bottom in a squared off, oval form, which rests within a giltwood base that has traces of red bole coloration. There is an oval indentation at the top of the wood where the statue sits. The base is adorned with cyma reversa molding that has scalloped vertical reed ornamentation.
Alabaster stone has been a popular choice for Italian carvers during the past several centuries. It is a beautiful semi-translucent mineral which allows masterful carvers to create very elaborate details. Today, this statue remains in excellent condition, and will be a focal point in any room. Place it on an elevated surface such as a table or a dedicated pedestal.
CONDITION: Very good antique condition with minor hairline to center of “rocky base”. Flea bites to rim of wood base