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Cupid with the Butterfly, after 1805
Brown gouache and carbonpencil heightened with white. Inscription in pencil. 376 x 290 mm
Inventory number: C813
For thousands of years the butterfly has been seen as an image of the soul and its immortality. In the Hellenistic period Cupid was portrayed as the one who pursues – and at times torments – the soul in the shape of a butterfly. In Greek the original meaning of psyche is life, later also spirit or soul; and it is also the name of a butterfly. Thorvaldsen used the motifs several times. He was for example familiar with it from his fine collection of antique gems.