Psyche in a Faint

Pietro TeneraniFirst half of the 19th century

The State Hermitage Museum

The State Hermitage Museum
St. Petersburg, Russia

In his Metamorphoses, the Roman writer Apuleius relates how Cupid fell in love with Psyche, but his mother Venus was jealous of the girl's beauty and persecuted her. Venus sent Psyche into the Underworld for a flask containing Proserpina's beauty ointment, with strict instructions not to open it. But the girl could not contain her curiosity and opened the flask, immediately falling into a faint, or deep sleep. In developing this early work, Tenerani, a leading 19th-century Italian sculptor, sought to capture realistically the pose of the body as someone falls into a deep and sudden faint. He made several sketches, four of which remained in the sculptor's workshop and are witness to his complex search for just the right sense of movement. The graceful form, the noble and harmonious lines, the careful working of the marble surface, all inherent features of the work of Tenerani, brought this sculpture great fame, and the artist repeated the figure at least seven times. The State Hermitage Museum, St.Petersburg. Photo by Vladimir Terebenin.


  • Title: Psyche in a Faint
  • Creator: Pietro Tenerani
  • Date Created: First half of the 19th century
  • Provenance: Gift of Prince Khristofor Lieven. 1838
  • Physical Dimensions: h1120 mm
  • Original Title: Психея, лишившаяся чувств
  • Type: Statue
  • Medium: Marble

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