Exhibitions/ Art Object

Gilt bronze with Cupid sleeping on the lion skin of Herakles

early 16th century
Italian, Venice
Bronze, partly gilded
Overall (confirmed): 8 7/8 × 7 3/4 × 7 1/2 in. (22.5 × 19.7 × 19.1 cm)
Credit Line:
Edith Perry Chapman Fund, 1951
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 536
Cupid rests after stealing Herakles' lion skin, signifying that love is at least equal to strength. The little god, leaning against a tree, may also be sleeping off the effects of drink (the object in his hand may be a vial). The leaves around the base are probably grape leaves. The statuette may have been the domed lid of a larger work. The subject of sleeping Cupid was reinvigorated by Michelangelo's marble of 1496 (now lost), carved to emulate and rival works of classical antiquity. With its tightly coiled curls, this figure may show the influence of the Lombardo family, which dominated Venetian sculpture in the early sixteenth century.
Stroganov Family , St. Petersburg (until 1931; sale, Lepke's Kunstactionshaus, Berlin, May 13, 1931, no. 243); [ Stiebel Ltd. (until 1932; sold to Kern) ] ; Bruno Kern ; [ Blumka Gallery (until 1951; sold to MMA) ]
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