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Work of the Week | 14 February 2022

CAG.468 Edward Ambrose, Cupid and Psyche, 1840, marble, 50 x 106 x 46 cm. Purchased, Mrs Bennet, 1920 (Gibson Bequest Fund).

Love is in the air with this WORK OF THE WEEK!

Cupid and Psyche (1840) by Edward Ambrose is a love letter in stone. Sculpted in marble, it presents a vision of perfect love frozen in time and is a scene derived from an ancient story in Metamorphoses by the North African writer Apuleius (c.124-c.170).

The love affair between Cupid, the son of Venus and Mars, and the mortal Psyche is one for the ages, albeit complicated by the involvement of the ancient gods.

As the tale goes, Venus (Aphrodite) resented Psyche as a rival to her own beauty so she cursed the love Psyche shared with Cupid (Eros) and was forbidden to look upon him. The artist selects the fateful instant in which Psyche breaks the rules and holds a lamp above Cupid, seeing him for the first time. Soon a drop of oil will fall onto Cupid’s shoulder and the beauty of the moment will be spoiled.

Fun Fact: In 1852, this sculpture was featured at the National Exhibition, Cork. As with the great Neoclassical sculptor Antonio Canova (1757-1822) before him, Edward Ambrose (1814-1890) was to make other works on the same theme: Psyche discovering Cupid and Cupid Raising Psyche from the Soporiphic Vision were both exhibited at the Royal Hibernian Academy in 1858.

Acquired for the collection in 1920, Cupid and Psyche was among the first artworks purchased through the Gibson Bequest Fund.

Cupid and Psyche (1840) by Edward Ambrose is featured in RECASTING CANOVA in our Sculpture Galleries (Ground Floor).

Free entry | Open daily

Tune into The Arts House with Elmarie Mawe on Cork’s 96FM and C103FM every Sunday morning as Conor Tallon chats with assistant curator Michael Waldron about each WORK OF THE WEEK! Listen back to this week's chat here:


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