Sleeping Cupid

Follower of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1573-1610)

Currently on View in C202
Image Licensing

This unidealized Cupid in the style of Caravaggio, brightly lit before a shadowy background, sleeps with his characteristic bow and arrow of love still in hand. The sleeping Cupid was a familiar subject in antiquity and enjoyed a revival among 16th- and 17th-century writers and artists.

An X-ray of this painting (shown below) reveals that it consists of three pieces of canvas. The long vertical and short horizontal white lines on the right are sewn seams that attach two smaller strips of canvas. At the upper left is what appears to be a disembodied head with an open mouth. How, or if, the hidden face relates to the Cupid is part of ongoing research.

Private Collection, Ireland.{1} (Count Ivan Podgoursky [1901-1962], New York) by 1948; Dr. George Henry Alexander Clowes [1877-1958], Indianapolis, in 1952; The Clowes Fund Collection since 1958 and on long-term loan to the Indianapolis Museum of Art since 1971 (C10016); given to the Indianapolis Museum of Art in 2010.

{1} A. Ian Frasier, former curator of the Clowes Collection, writes in A Catalogue of the Clowes Collection, Indianapolis 1973, p. xxvii: "For a long time this picture was in a convent in Ireland." This information has not been verified.

Object Information

Follower of Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio (Italian, 1573-1610)
creation date
about 1600
oil on canvas
25-3/4 x 41-1/2 in. (canvas)
approximately 34-1/2 x 49-1/4 x 4-1/4 in. (framed)
accession number
credit line
The Clowes Collection
Public Domain
European Painting and Sculpture Before 1800

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