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A delightful, terracotta statue of the romantic lovers Eros (Roman Cupid) and Psyche - the winged Eros depicted in the nude and Psyche, seemingly diaphanous chiton with cascading drapery folds hugging her every curve. The male nude with left leg crossed in front of the right, wearing a cap with rounded rim (petasos) and a himation draped about the shoulders and legs, his right hand grasping the breast of his female companion standing with stephane diadem to the hair, clutching the folds of a loosely draped robes.

Both present endearing faces with delicately modelled features framed by wreaths. Given the joy and openness of their union, perhaps this piece is commemorating the young couple's joyous wedding day on Mount Olympus.


Canosa, circa 3rd century BC.


Fine condition; minor wear.

Height 33 cms (13 ins)


Provenance: From a Northwest London collection, previously acquired in the 1980s.


Literature: See similar specimen in Metropolitan Museum inv. n. 06.1062.


Canosa was one of the most important centres of production of such statuettes, active especially in 3rd-2nd century BC. Canosa was a major centre of the Italian ceramics and pottery trade during this period. It produced a distinctively decorated style easily distinguishable from earlier and neighbouring traditions. The Canosan clay was buff, with the decoration applied directly to it without the use of slip.


In classical mythology, Psyche's beauty, inspired Eros' love, and Aphrodite's jealousy. The 2nd century Latin writer Apuleius, in his Metamorphoses, told of a jealous Aphrodite (Venus) who commanded her son Eros (Cupid), the god of love, to punish the young lady. Only the plan backfired, and Eros upon seeing the beautiful mortal, fell in love with her instantly. Eros hid Psyche away in the mountains and visited her each night on the condition that she not know his identity. Following many trials and tribulations, the young couple would eventually marry on Mount Olympus and Psyche having won Aphrodite's favour would be granted immortality by the gods. This classic myth was simultaneously a love story and an allegory. As Psyche is the Greek word for "soul", the union of Psyche and Eros signified the union of the human soul and divine love.

Greek Canosa terracotta statue of Eros and Psyche

SKU: Y002

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