Eros and Psyche

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Eros and Psyche

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The work has been created by Antonio Canova between 1787 and 1793, commissioned by the British colonel John Campbell, known in Naples. Now the sculpture is preserved in the Louvre Museum, in Paris.

The theme is taken from the mith of Eros and Psyche, narrated by Apuleio in "The golden ass". Canova chose to represent the culmination moment of the ancient fable, when Eros awakes Psiche.
The artist revisited this subject in others versions, Where the two divinities are portrayed standing embraced; one of them is alwais at the loouvre and the other is at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg.

The iconography of this version probably derives  in part from a pictures painting seen in Ercolano with Faun and Baccante in part by memories of decorations of erotic-mythological popular in Venice.
The scene full of grace and naturalness, is studied on a strict geometric composition.
The bodies of two figures are arranged as two crossed arches in a big "X" and do not expand on a single level, but in depth, with a spiral motion that indices the spectator to turn around the group of sculptures. The delicate embrace is part of a central circle indicated by the arms and the circular motion ending in the intersection of looks.
The artist seemed to defy gravity. In this composition the heavy and inert matter of the marble is taken to extreme possibilities of resistance.
The stretch out elements as the limbs of the figures seem alivee and elastic. In the wings of Eros, thin and impalpable, the marble changed into a light and soft matter.
The movements appear loose, graceful, continuous and well-syncronized. They develop with delicate and expressive gestures, studied in a balanced perfectly choreography.
The gesture and movements also introduce the dimension of time, but instead appear with his natural, time is made eternal by the artist in a sublime moment which reamains in suspended.
Even the figures in adolescent bodies and their perfect anatomic shapes are idealized in conformity with the neoclassic principle of absolute and spiritual beauty.
The technical skills of Canova here reache a very high quality. The artist manages to givre the softness of the stone and natural warmth of the flesh.
In this research of balance between naturalism and idealization, Canova compy with the totally  principle of grace typically neoclassic, taught by Winckelmann, but at the same time, introduces already some values that are typical of Romanticism.
The sweetness and the subtle sensuality of the work, the use of lines of tension, the compositional dynamism set up a fascinating and growing rhytm, the same emotional  component that is build around the scene, are elements that belong to romantic sensibilities.

A. Cocchi




M.F. Apolloni Canova. Dossier Art n. 68., Giunti editore, Firenze 1985
G. Dorfles, C. Della Costa, M. Ragazzi Lineamenti di storia dell'arte.vol 2. Dal Rinascimento ad oggi. Istituto Italiano Edizioni Atlas, Bergamo 2006
E. Bernini, R. Rota. Figura 2. Profili di storia dell'arte. Editori Laterza, Bari 2000
M. Praz, G. Pavanello. L'opera completa del Canova. Classici dell'arte Rizzoli, Milano 1966


Stile:Neoclassicismo, Settecento.

Per saperne di più sulla città di: Parigi, Louvre


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