Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Tale of Love and Psyche: The myth in art from antiquity to Canova

Perin del Vaga, Love and Psyche, 1545-46
Castel Sant'Angelo

The Ministry of Cultural Heritage has decided to celebrate with an exhibition the story of Cupid and Psyche in the Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome, at the end of the restoration of the frieze of Perin del Vaga painted by the artist between 1545 and 1546 in the apartments of Paul III.

The tale is dedicated to one of antiquity’s most fascinating legend, as told by Apuleius in his celebrated The Golden Ass. It can also be compared to the most famous poem (n. 85) of the Latin poet Catullus:

Odi et amo. Qua re id faciam, fortasse requiris.
Nescio, sed fieri sentio et excrucior (Latin text).

Odio e amo. Forse mi chiedi come io faccia.
Non lo so, ma sento che cio' accade, e ne sono tormentato (Italian text).

Hate and love. Perhaps you ask me how I do.
I do not know, but I feel that this is happening and I am tormented (English text).

The touching love story between Cupid and Psyche has inspired artists through the ages. 
The most famous examples are: 

Raphael’s frescoes in the home of Agostino Chigi, the famous loggia in Villa Farnesina

Giulio Romano’s equally famous frescoes in Mantua’s Palazzo Te
 Canova’s renowned sculptures are also among the great works of art inspired by the legend.

The tale itself is quite well known – it tells the turbulent story of Cupid and Psyche, and the young girl’s ordeals at the hands of Venus before she was finally able to marry her beloved – and can be interpreted in many different ways: as a symbol of troubled love in antiquity, or as the triumph of marriage during the Renaissance. The Baroque era emphasized the dramatic and theatrical aspects of the legend, and between the 18th and 19th centuries, it became an emblem of wistful love, and was often associated to the themes of abandonment and sleep.

The exhibition will run until June 10, 2012 at Castel Sant'Angelo.

Don't miss this occasion!

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