Photo © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1977.216.3417
Title
Cupid
Other Titles
Alternate Title: Winged Eros
Classification
Sculpture
Work Type
sculpture, statuette
Date
1st-3rd century CE
Places
Creation Place: Ancient & Byzantine World
Period
Roman Imperial period
Culture
Roman
Persistent Link
https://hvrd.art/o/304104
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Bronze
Technique
Cast
Dimensions
3 cm (1 3/16 in.)
Technical Details

Technical Observations: The patina is brown with some accretions in crevices. The object is in good condition, although the proper left arm below the forearm is missing. The figure is a solid cast made in one piece. It appears to have been modeled directly in the wax. There is no evidence of cold working.

Nancy Lloyd (submitted 2001)

Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Transfer from the Department of the Classics, Harvard University
Accession Year
1977
Object Number
1977.216.3417
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
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Descriptions

Published Catalogue Text: Ancient Mediterranean and Near Eastern Bronzes at the Harvard Art Museums
This crudely made figure of Cupid (Eros) has a thick, babyish body. The thighs are joined to below the knees, but the figure still manages to give the impression of motion, stepping onto his left foot, with his torso bent into an S-curve. The left arm is raised and may have held an object in the now-missing hand (1). The lowered right hand is empty, with open palm turned forward; fingers are lightly indicated. Cupid raises his head toward the right; his facial features are indistinct. His hair is arranged in a topknot above his brow, with curled locks of hair framing his face. Plain wings sprout from his shoulders on the back.

In contrast to the Greek Eros, who was often depicted as a nude youth with wings, Roman Cupid generally took on the appearance of a putto, a slightly chubby young child. Cupids are depicted participating in many activities in Roman art, from music and dancing (2) to harvesting and farming (3) to fighting and playing games (4). Cupids (erotes) often appear as attendants to other deities, especially Venus (Aphrodite), and Harvard’s copper alloy Cupid statuettes may have been part of larger statuette groups (5). Cupids are also depicted with ritual accoutrements, such as offering plates or garlands, or in ritual actions such as pouring libations and participating in animal sacrifice (6).

NOTES:

1. Compare D. G. Mitten, Classical Bronzes, Rhode Island School of Design Museum of Art (Providence, 1975) 184-85, no. 62, who has a jug in his raised right hand and patera in his lowered left hand.

2. See, for example, Lexicon Iconographicum Mythologiae Classicae Eros/Amor, Cupido nos. 449-88.

3. See, for example, LIMC Eros/Amor, Cupido nos. 489-527.

4. See, for example, LIMC Eros/Amor, Cupido nos. 230-66.

5. For all examples of cupids in service of deities, see LIMC Eros/Amor, Cupido nos. 589-631; for Venus specifically, see LIMC Eros/Amor, Cupido nos. 589-605. Compare also LIMC Eros (in per. or.) nos. 76-88. For additional examples of Cupid and Venus groups in bronze, see A. de Ridder, Catalogue de la collection de Clercq 3: Les bronzes (Paris, 1905) 52-53, 61-62, 80-81, 87, and 91-92; nos. 61, 80, 113, 124, and 133; pls. 10, 13, 24, 27, and 29.

6. See, for example, LIMC Eros/Amor, Cupido nos. 689-714.

Jane A. Scott and Lisa M. Anderson

Subjects and Contexts

Ancient Bronzes

Roman Domestic Art

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu