Roman Silver Fragment of Cupid


A delicate Roman silver fragment of the deity Cupid completed in the round. The figure appears as a youthful and portly boy, depicted nude apart from the semblance of his arrow holder, indicating by a thin incised line running diagonally across his chest. The figure has one leg placed in front of the other, indicating his weight was held on his right hip, and giving a defined S-shape to his body. This placement is known as contrapposto, and in Italian means ‘counterpoise’. It was a stance used famously in Classical antiquity. Two large unfurled wings are placed behind Cupid, a faint indication of feathers visible. The facial features are generally stylised, with more effort shown to the curling locks of the deity’s hair. The arms and feet of the piece are no longer attached. As there is no attachment to the piece, most likely it was a small votive statue or possibly a casket decoration.

Date: Circa 1st-4th century AD
Provenance: From the late Alison Barker collection, a retired London barrister; from her collection formed early 1960s-1990s.
Condition: Very fine. Fragmentary piece, with the feet and arms now missing. Some damage to the back. Applied red resin added to the leg and feet.


SKU: AH-985 Category: Tag:

In Ancient Roman culture and mythology, Cupid was the youthful god of erotic love, desire and affection. He was capable of making divine or mortal individuals fall in love with his enchanted arrows. Cupid is generally represented as a cute chubby boy with wings, carrying a bow and quiver of arrows. During the Hellenistic period, the representation of Eros, Greek counterpart of Cupid, underwent a significant change. The god who had previously been depicted as a slender, nude youth was re-envisioned as a chubby toddler. This shift in Cupid’s form seems to run parallel to the increasing interest in the representation of children as subject matter in Hellenistic art. This notably youthful image of Eros carried over into that of Cupid in the Roman period, not only in representations of the god himself but also in mythological or genre scenes depicting multiple Erotes or putti.

To discover more about Roman deities, please visit our relevant blog post: Roman Gods in Mythology

Weight 7.5 g
Dimensions W 1.4 x H 3.3 cm



Roman Mythology

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