A comparison of the two sculptures that can be seen at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, "Cupid and Psyche" made by Antonio Canova in the 18th century, and "Eternal Spring" created by Auguste Rodin at the very beginning of the 20th century, will reveal that both the artists have captured the feelings of the protagonists, but in different phases of their relationship. They both show Cupid and his lover Psyche in a tight embrace, but in two distinct situations.
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One century can make an enormous difference when it comes to the way an artist sees a historical scene. Although they lived in different environments and periods, Auguste Rodin and Antonio Canova have one work of art that has been developed on the same theme. The effect of these differences can be sensed from the first look at their sculptures. On the other hand, some features are strikingly similar, if not intensified by the dissimilarities.
The "Cupid and Psyche" sculpture displays the first time that Psyche has locked eyes with Cupid, Aphrodite's son. The legend says that she has sent him to her bed to force her to fall in love with a ghastly creature, because of Psyche's unimaginable beauty Aphrodite was so jealous of. This sculpture shows the exact moment when she sees him for the first time, despite his invisibility. This is also the moment when he falls in love with her irreversibly, because it appears he scratches himself with his own arrow. The tight embrace symbolizes the magical moment as well as the platonic relation that starts to form between the two of them. Nevertheless, there is sensuality in the scene, because Cupid carefully holds his arm around Psyche's chest.
In contrast, "Eternal Spring" only shows limitless love, sensuality and passion. The first detail that strikes is the fact that Cupid has lost his wings, which can very well represent him falling into disgrace. As the legend moves on, his love for Psyche goes far beyond the rules of the Gods, which may be the symbol of his utter resemblance to a mortal. Just like his loved one, Cupid indulges in a moment of guiltless pleasure, and the scene does not reproduce their fear for the punishment that they will receive for their love.
As far as the structural features are concerned, there are several differences between the two sculptures. "Canova has taken the moment when the beautiful Psyche, recovering from her insensibility, throws back her lovely head from which her charming tresses fall down in richly flowing ringlets" (Henry Moses, The Works of Antonio Canova in Sculpture and Modeling Vol. I, London: Septimus Prowett, 23, Old Bond Street, 1824) The most flagrant one is the level of detail. "Cupid and Psyche" is carefully carved to shape each detail in order to create the desired effect and to catch the intensity of the moment. The high level of detail, compared to the other sculpture, may also mean the fact that Cupid and Psyche, being at the first moment of their relationship, can be clearly contoured.
The style in which Rodin has sculpted "Eternal Spring" is rather rough, although it has a sensuous effect to it. The bodies of the two lovers seem to blend into each other, suggesting the passion and the flame of their love. The rock rises in the shape of a chair, which supports his left arm extended, whilst on his right reclines the body of his beloved. Her arms are raised to draw his head down to hers, as in the "Baiser," and, as in the "Baiser," a kiss is exchanged between them. The simplicity of the sculpture as a whole is in deep contrast with the complexity of the feeling that is expresses. Unaware or just careless for the sentence that awaits them, Cupid and Psyche are represented in an ardent moment that fully expresses their love for each other.
The original "Cupid and Psyche" is presented in the Louvre museum, in Paris, there is another replica that belongs to hermitage museum in Saint Petersburg, whereas the copy that is displayed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art is New York is made out of plaster as a loyal copy of the original. Although it is a replica, it still expresses the same feelings that the creator intended in the original. In comparison to Canova's sculpture, Rodin's "Eternal Spring" from the Metropolitan Museum of Art is the original, carved in marble. The hard and dense rock was sculpted by the artist and completed in March 1907, and although the replica of the previous statue was successfully done, studying the original gives a much more intense feeling to the visitors.
Since both Auguste Robin and Antonio Canova are the adepts of the Rubensian style, the lines and shapes are common for both the sculptures: Psyche has generous curves that are gently covered by a piece of linen in "Cupid and Psyche", whereas "Eternal Spring" suggests freedom and independence through the lack of clothing. As far as the mass, texture and volume go, it is clear that there are several differences between the works of art. As previously stated, the material used to create these certain sculptures is different, thus the texture will be distinct as well. The mass and volume are actual parameters which can only be determined after thorough examinations.
After meticulous research, it is clear that the two statues are distinctive glimpses of two vital moments in the legend of Cupid and Psyche. Because of this, it is almost natural to assume the fact that they will be different in some ways and extremely similar in others. In addition, it is wise to say that in spite of the detailed shapes and lines, the message that needs to be transmitted is successfully passed through with the help of the legend itself. In light of this fact, the legend creates two different creation motives, which are seen distinctively by two different spectrums: at one end Cupid seeks to put a spell on the mortal woman, while on the other side, Cupid is trapped under his own spell.
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