God Cupid

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A solid bronze figure representing the Roman god Cupid (Eros to the Greeks). He is standing on the original lararium base which is hollow inside. He is depicted naked with his wings spread wide open from his back. The right foot stands solidly on the base while the left is stretched out behind the god, making his entire body seem to incline forward in a pose as if he were just about to take flight. The position of the arms and the hands leads us to conclude that he must have been stretching the cord of his bow, perhaps made of the same material, to shoot one of his arrows. This position is the most notable aspect of the statuette.

Cupid was the god most responsible for sexual attraction and love. Both the Romans and the Greeks worshipped him as a god of fertility. It is very common to find his image associated with objects like women’s jewellery and pottery for cosmetic use found on dressing tables.

The lararium was a small shrine in Roman houses in which the family members could place offerings on an altar and offer up prayers to the household gods. These were represented by statuettes called lares, mostly made of bronze. In patrician residences the lararium was in general found in the atrium, the central hall of the residence. In a simpler residence without an atrium, the shrine would be more or less in the kitchen near the central fire.

The technique of lost wax casting is a sculptural procedure using a mould made from a prototype of the piece to be worked, and this prototype is usually made from beeswax. This is covered with a thick layer of soft material, usually clay, which then solidifies. Once this has hardened it is put in a kiln where the wax inside melts and leaks out from expressly made holes in the clay. In its place molten metal is injected and this takes on the exact form of the mould. To release the final piece the mould must be removed.

PARALLELS:

- ROLLAND, H. Bronzes Antiques de Haute Provence. Paris. 1965. nº 112.

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