The J. Paul Getty Museum

Fresco Fragment with Cupids and Psyche Making Perfume

Object Details


Fresco Fragment with Cupids and Psyche Making Perfume






Italy (Place Created)


A.D. 50–79



Object Number:



38 × 56 × 2 cm (14 15/16 × 22 1/16 × 13/16 in.)

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Object Description

One of a pair of Roman fresco panels that were originally part of the same wall (see also 72.AG.82). Both frescoes depict scenes of Cupids and Psyche (Cupid’s beloved) engaging in everyday activities–a popular humorous subject in Roman art, especially wall painting. In this panel, a group of Cupids tend a perfume shop. On the left, two Cupids mix perfume in a large white bowl. Behind them, a cupboard holds jars containing either perfume ingredients or the finished product. At the right, a third Cupid holds an alabastron (flask), while a seated Psyche holds up her arm to smell the fragrance.

This fresco fragment was part of a larger scheme of painted decoration for a wall in a wealthy home. The painting style, categorized by scholars as Fourth Style, is the last style of Roman wall painting, and combines the spatial vistas of the Second Style with the fantastic architecture of the Third Style. It was popular from approximately 63 B.C. until A.D. 79, when Pompeii and Herculaneum were destroyed. The houses excavated at those sites show that a panel like this one would have been a minor element of the wall's decoration, subsidiary to a large panel with a mythological or architectural motif.

by 1971 - 1972

Elie Borowski, Polish, 1913 - 2003 (Basel, Switzerland), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1972.

Ancient Art from the Permanent Collection (March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 16, 1999 to May 23, 2004

Vermeule, Cornelius, and Norman Neuerberg. Catalogue of the Ancient Art in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1973), pp. 99-100, no. 99, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 38.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Appointment Calendar (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1981), Week of February 9.

Spivey, Nigel and Squire, Michael. Panorama of the Classical World (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2004), p. 27, fig. 34.

Turner, Michael. "Aphrodite and Her Birds: the Iconology of Pagenstecher Lekythoi." Bulletin of the Institute of Classical Studies 48 (2005), p. 67n63.