Statuette of a Sleeping Cupid

Object Details

Title:

Statuette of a Sleeping Cupid

Artist/Maker(s):

Unknown

Culture:

Roman

Date:

50 - 100

Medium:

Marble

Dimensions:

13.5 x 41.9 x 26 cm (5 5/16 x 16 1/2 x 10 1/4 in.)

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Eros, the winged child-god of love, lies sleeping on a lionskin. This image, derived from a Hellenistic Greek sculpture, was extremely popular with the Romans, who used it in a variety of ways: as a fountain or garden ornament, as a dedication to the gods, and, as was the case with this sculpture, as a funerary monument. In this context, the sleeping Eros brings to mind both sleep and death, which are parallel states of being. The image of the sleeping child-god was especially popular on children's graves.

The lionskin on which Eros dozes alludes to another common theme. Eros often appeared with various attributes of the hero Herakles, such as the lionskin. These symbols of the hero's strength were used to signal the irresistible power of Eros, who, though only a child, is neither weak nor innocent.

Exhibitions
Rome on the Grand Tour (January 8 to August 11, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 8 to August 11, 2002
Aphrodite and the Gods of Love (March 28, 2012 to May 26, 2013)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, October 26, 2011 to February 20, 2012
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa, (Malibu), March 28 to July 9, 2012
Bibliography

Vermeule, Cornelius C. Greek Art. Socrates to Sulla. Art of Antiquity 2, pt. 2. Boston: 1980. pp. 92-93, 135, no. 127; ill. p. 283.

Soeldner, Magdalene. Untersuchungen zu liegenden Eroten in der hellenistischen und roemischen Kunst. Frankfurt: 1986. p. 625, no. 52; figs. 55-57.

Koch, Guntram, with Karol Wight. Roman Funerary Sculpture. Catalogue of the Collections. Malibu: 1988. pp. 114-16, no. 43, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Antiquities Collection. Rev. ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2010), p. 155.