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Attribué à Giovanni Maria Benzoni (1809-1873), d’après Antonio Canova (1757-1822)
L’Amour et Psyché


Marbre blanc 142 × 90 × 55 cm
inv. 956
Legs Paul Marmottan (1932)
For many years, this sculpture was attributed to the greatest Italian sculptor of the late 18th century, Antonio Canova. Such a name, and such a subject, were bound to arouse the curiosity of Paul Marmottan. The famous group sculpture of Psyche and Cupid was part of the Murat collection at the Château de Villiers, which Marmottan had studied. In fact, this group must be given to a later sculptor who, like so many other Italian artists, was strongly influenced by his great predecessor. Apart from the rotating movement of the arms and the Neoclassical grace of the figures, a number of details recall the piece in the Louvre, notably Cupid’s hair, which recalls that of its model. The original version of this work was made in 1845 (it is now at the Galleria d’Arte Moderna in Milan). According to some historians, Benzoni reprised this theme eight times, the last not long before his death. One of the versions— this one, perhaps?— is said to have been exhibited in Paris in 1867. The sculptor has taken a few liberties with the story of Psyche as it is recounted by Apuleus. There is no episode in The Golden Ass in which Venus holding the urn in which Psyche carries back water from the Styx, the river of the Underworld