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The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche

Andrea Schiavone (Andrea Medulic or Meldolla) (Italian, Zadar (Zara) (?) ca. 1510?–1563 Venice)

ca. 1550
Oil on wood
Overall, with corners made up, 51 1/2 x 61 7/8 in. (130.8 x 157.2 cm); painted surface 50 1/2 x 61 1/2 in. (128.3 x 156.2 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Gift of Mary V. T. Eberstadt, by exchange, 1972
Accession Number:
  • Gallery Label

    The painting represents the marriage of Cupid, the son of Venus, with the mortal Psyche, in the presence of Juno, Jupiter, Mars, and other gods of Olympus as narrated by Apuleius in "The Golden Ass". Originally an octagon (the four corners are additions), it was the central panel of a ceiling with scenes from the legend of Psyche painted by Schiavone in about 1550 for the Castello di Salvatore di Collato, in the hills to the north of Venice. Schiavone’s fluid and painterly style and the exaggerated proportions of his figures were inspired by Parmigianino and were in turn important to a younger generation of painters such as Tintoretto.

  • Catalogue Entry


  • Provenance

    ?conti di Collalto, Castello di San Salvatore, Susegana (from about 1550); Richard Boyle, 3rd Earl of Burlington, Chiswick House, near London (until d. 1753); his daughter, Charlotte Elizabeth Boyle, Duchess of Devonshire, Chiswick House (1753–d. 1754); her widower, William Cavendish, 4th Duke of Devonshire, Chiswick House (1754–d. 1764); the Dukes of Devonshire, Chiswick House and Chatsworth, Derbyshire (1764–1950); Andrew Cavendish, 11th Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth (1950–58; his sale, Christie's, London, June 27, 1958, no. 19, for £4,725 to Sperling [Kleinberger]); [Kleinberger, New York, 1958–66; sold to Fleischman]; [Lawrence A. Fleischman, New York, 1966–73; sold to Mont]; [Frederick Mont, New York, 1973; sold to MMA]

  • Exhibition History

    Waltham, Mass. Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. "Major Masters of the Renaissance," May 3–June 9, 1963, no. 18 (lent by F. Kleinberger & Co., New York).

    Poughkeepsie. Vassar College Art Gallery. "Sixteenth Century Paintings From American Collections," October 16–November 15, 1964, no. 16 (lent by F. Kleinberger and Co., New York).

    New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.

  • References

    Carlo Ridolfi. Le maraviglie dell'arte. Venice, 1648, part 1, p. 237 [1914 ed., part 1, p. 256], mentions that Schiavone painted a ceiling decorated with scenes from the story of Psyche for the conti Collalti at San Salvatore, and that the center compartment depicted the marriage of Cupid and Psyche, possibly this work.

    London and its Environs Described. London, 1761, vol. 2, p. 123, lists it as "The Marriage of Cupid, &c.," by Andrea Schiavone, in the new dining room at Chiswick.

    [Thomas Martyn]. The English Connoisseur: Containing an Account of Whatever is Curious in Painting, Sculpture, &c. in the Palaces and Seats of the Nobility and Principal Gentry of England, Both in Town and Country. London, 1766, vol. 1, p. 40, lists it as at Chiswick.

    Bernhard Berenson. The Venetian Painters of the Renaissance. 3rd ed. New York, 1897, p. 125, lists it as "Marriage of Cupid and Psyche," by Schiavone, in the collection of the Duke of Devonshire, Chatsworth.

    Adolfo Venturi. "La pittura del Cinquecento." Storia dell'arte italiana. 9, part 4, Milan, 1929, p. 741 n.

    L[ili]. Fröhlich-Bum in Allgemeines Lexikon der bildenden Künstler. 24, Leipzig, 1930, p. 359, as Venus and Cupid.

    Bernhard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance. Oxford, 1932, p. 518.

    Bernhard Berenson. Pitture italiane del rinascimento. Milan, 1936, p. 446.

    Bernard Berenson. Italian Pictures of the Renaissance: Venetian School. London, 1957, vol. 1, p. 159; vol. 2, pl. 1162.

    Creighton Gilbert. Major Masters of the Renaissance. Exh. cat., Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University. Waltham, Mass., 1963, pp. 25–26, no. 18, pl. 18, notes the influence of Parmigianino in the elongated, boneless figures.

    Francis L. Richardson. "Andrea Schiavone." PhD diss., Institute of Fine Arts, New York University, 1971, pp. 259, 389, 435–38, 683–84, no. 265, fig. 79, calls it a later, more elaborate version of a painting in the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence; dates it about 1549–50; believes that either the Florence or MMA picture could be the one mentioned by Ridolfi [see Ref. 1648].

    Francis L. Richardson. Cable to Everett Fahy. March 7, 1973, calls it an "autograph Schiavone of highest quality".

    Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School. New York, 1973, pp. 51–52, pls. 56, 57 (overall and detail), tentatively date it to the late 1540s or early 1550s, before Schiavone's paintings in the Libreria, Venice; call it almost certainly the painting mentioned by Ridolfi [see Ref. 1648] in the Castello di San Salvatore, Collalto; suggest that Schiavone may have been influenced by a ceiling decoration (Palazzo del Te, Mantua) of the same subject painted by Giuliano Romano and pupils in about 1528.

    Anthony M. Clark in The Metropolitan Museum of Art: Notable Acquisitions, 1965–1975. New York, 1975, p. 93, ill., states definitely that it comes from Collalto and dates it about 1550.

    Terisio Pignatti in collaboration with Kenneth Donahue in The Golden Century of Venetian Painting. Exh. cat., Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Los Angeles, 1979, p. 90.

    Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, pp. 276, 280, fig. 504.

    Francis L. Richardson. Andrea Schiavone. Oxford, 1980, pp. 39, 42, 159–60, 168–69, no. 280, fig. 110, dates it about 1549.

    Francis L. Richardson in The Dictionary of Art. 28, New York, 1996, p. 82.

    Andrea Bayer. "North of the Apennines: Sixteenth-Century Italian Painting in Venice and the Veneto." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 63 (Summer 2005), pp. 36–37, fig. 33 (color).

    Benjamin Couilleaux in Titien, Tintoret, Véronèse . . . Rivalités à Venise. Exh. cat., Musée du Louvre. Paris, 2009, p. 338, dates it about 1549.

  • Notes

    The subject is taken from "The Golden Ass" (books iv–vi), by Apuleius. The gods depicted surrounding the bridal pair can be identified as (left to right): Juno, Jupiter, Mars, Venus, Hebe, an unidentified river god, and possibly Vesta.

    Originally octagonal in shape, the corners were added in the eighteenth century. The work was probably originally part of a ceiling decoration painted by Schiavone in about 1550 for the conti di Collalto, Castello di San Salvatore, Susegana. One of the ceilings depicted the story of Psyche, with the center compartment showing the marriage of Cupid and Psyche [see Ref. Ridolfi 1648].

    There is an earlier variant of the MMA painting in the Istituto Nazionale di Studi sul Rinascimento, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (Richardson 1980, no. 256; 130 x 130 cm).

    A large drawing (MMA 63.93, "Psyche Presented to the Gods") by Schiavone depicts a related subject but with a different composition.

  • See also
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History