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A delightful, terracotta statue of the romantic lovers Eros (Roman Cupid) and Psyche, in ochre terracotta with white slip and pink, red and blue pigments. He is laureate and naked; she is laureate and holds a partially missing lyre. The winged Eros depicted in the nude and Psyche in a diaphanous chiton with cascading drapery folds hugging her every curve. Both present endearing faces with delicately modelled features.


Magna Graecia, Canosa workshop: Circa 3rd-2nd century BC.


Very Fine condition; minor losses: Good amounts of pigment remaining.

Height 13.2 cms (5.2 ins).


Provenance: Madame Suzanne Gozlan then by descent. Mrs. Suzanne Gozlan (1921-2022), Doctor in History and Archaeology, professor at the Ecole Normale d'Instituteurs de Chartres and lecturer at the University of Paris 4 Sorbonne.


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.


Given the joy and openness of their union, perhaps this piece is commemorating the young couple's joyous wedding day on Mount Olympus.

Greek Canosa terracotta statue of Eros and Psyche

SKU: Y061

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