Fresco Fragment with Cupids and Psyche Making Perfume

Object Details


Fresco Fragment with Cupids and Psyche Making Perfume






Italy (Place created)


third quarter of 1st century




38 x 56 cm (14 15/16 x 22 1/16 in.)

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A group of Cupids tend a perfume shop in this Roman wall painting fragment. 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 Cupid holds an alabastron, while a seated Psyche holds up her arm to smell the perfume. Cupids and Psyches engaged in everyday activities were a popular humorous subject in Roman art, especially wall painting.

Typical of a style of Roman painting popular in the first century A.D. called the Fourth Style, this fresco fragment was part of a larger scheme of painted decoration for a wall in a wealthy home. Fourth Style wall painting was very much in vogue when the volcano Vesuvius erupted in A.D. 79, destroying the cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum. 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.

- 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: 1973. pp. 99-100, no. 99, ill.

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