Psyche Worshipped as the Personification of Beauty

Andrea Appiani1792/1792

Fondazione Cariplo

Fondazione Cariplo
Milan, Italy

This drawing together with Psyche Asking Proserpine for Her Box of Beauty are preparatory studies for a fresco cycle recounting the story of Cupid and Psyche in the Rotonda of the Villa Reale in Monza. Commissioned from Appiani by Archduke Ferdinand II of Habsburg-Lorraine and his wife Maria Beatrice at the beginning of 1792, the cycle was completed by the artist in the space of a few months. The fresco above the door, which represents the same subject, is the final version of the project documented by the work under examination. It is the first painting in the cycle, whose iconographic development was possibly inspired by Giuseppe Parini, and is a fairly free adaptation of the tale narrated in Metamorphoses by Apuleius. The subject of this work is the prologue to the whole story: Pysche, a maiden of incomparable beauty, was worshipped like a goddess. This aroused Venus’s hatred and led to Psyche’s having to endure various trials until her final apotheosis and marriage to Cupid. There exist other preparatory drawings for this cycle which are held by the Library of the Brera Academy of Fine Arts, the Biblioteca Ambrosiana and the Gabinetto di Disegni e Stampe del Castello Sforzesco; another two drawings are in a private collection in Monza. In the stylistic rendering of the Cupid and Psyche fresco cycle, and consequently in the preparatory drawings, influences deriving from Appiani’s visit to Rome in 1791 are clearly evident. Indeed, the references to Raphael and his analogous cycle in the Villa Farnesina, to Domenichino’s frescoes in the church of Sant’Andrea della Valle – and also to those by Correggio in the dome of the church of San Giovanni in Parma where Appiani stayed for a while – are unmistakable. Here, the artist is clearly in the process of defining the language associated with the height of his mature period, whose Neoclassical stamp was to make him the leading exponent of Napoleonic painting.


  • Title: Psyche Worshipped as the Personification of Beauty
  • Creator: Andrea Appiani
  • Creator Lifespan: 1754/1817
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Milan
  • Creator Birth Place: Milan
  • Date: 1792/1792
  • Physical Dimensions: w33 x h22 cm (Without frame)
  • Provenance: Cariplo Foundation, 1991
  • Type: Painting, ink & watercolour on paper
  • Rights: http://www.artgate-cariplo.it/en/disclaimer.html
  • External Link: www.artgate-cariplo.it

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