The story of the love of Amor and Psyche, as related by Apuleius in ancient times, inspired artists into ever new images: Psyche, visited each night by her lover Amor, who nevertheless refuses to reveal his shape and his name, succumbs to curiosity and approaches the sleeping Amor in order to see his true form by the light of an oil lamp. Inadvertently, a drop of oil falls onto Amor, who flees in shock. Only after Psyche has passed various tests and the gods give their permission, may she marry her lover in the gods’ heaven. For his first large, independent sculpture, Begas chose the dramatic highpoint of the story, when Psyche bends over her lover. The composition is in the traditions of classical sculpture and is structured within a broad-based triangle with Psyche’s head marking its highest point. The work is built up on a harmonious oval plinth. The treatment of surfaces and individual shapes alike shows Begas’ move from strict linearity to the soft, painterly modelling that was soon to become characteristic of neo-Baroque art.


  • Title: Amor and Psyche
  • Creator: Reinhold Begas
  • Date Created: 1854 - 1857
  • Physical Dimensions: w124.0 x h97.0 x d78.0 cm
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Technique and material: Marble
  • Inv.-No.: SKG 15/71
  • ISIL-No.: DE-MUS-815114
  • External link: Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyrights: Text: © Prestel Verlag / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Photo: © b p k - Photo Agency / Alte Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Andres Kilger
  • Collection: Nationalgalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Acquired 1971
  • Artist biography: Reinhold Begas was a German sculptor. He was an apprentice under Christian Daniel Rauch and Ludwig Wilhelm Wichmann. From 1856 to 1858 he travelled around Italy where he was influenced by Arnold Böcklin and Franz Lenbach to move towards a naturalistic style in sculpture. In 1861 he was appointed professor at the Weimar art school before winning the competition to create the statue of Schiller at Gendarmenmarkt in Berlin. From 1870 he was the leading artist working in the plastic arts in the Kingdom of Prussia. His artworks dominated the urban landscape, particularly of Berlin, during the German empire. Several sculptures in Berlin bear testament to his high reputation, such as the Neptune fountain in bronze, originally erected on Schlossplatz, the figure of Alexander von Humboldt in front of the Humboldt-Universität or the statue of Otto von Bismarck in the city’s cathedral.
  • Artist Place of Death: Schöneberg, Germany
  • Artist Place of Birth: Berlin, Germany
  • Artist Dates: 1831-07-15/1911-08-03

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