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image H8

Cast of a female torso found at Capua and now in the Museo Archaological Nazionale at Naples

Plaster cast

Museum number: H8

Curatorial note

The original of this cast (Naples, National Archaeologcal Museum 269) was discovered in the Roman amphitheatre at Capua in the 18th century and identified as 'Psyche', meaning ‘soul’ in ancient Greek. She is now thought to represent the goddess Aphrodite. The sculpture is a Roman version of a Hellenistic orignal in the style of works thought to be by Scopas, with characteristic sloping shoulders and globe-shaped breasts. It is the upper part of a full-length statue: the goddess would have stood with her weight on her right foot and was probably drawing the drapery, which would have covered the lower half of her body over her left shoulder with her left hand. The head, turned to the right and bent down, may indicate that the figure was part of a group, which might perhaps have been with Eros holding a mirror.

The fragment was found much mutilated, the lower part of the body and both arms missing and the head sheared off. Casts were probably soon available in Naples - there is another in the Thorwaldsen Museum, also early 19th century, with a rather cruder support than this highly finished Soane Museum example which is on an elegant pedestal. When compared to the original fragment it appears that the cast-maker has slightly improved the fragment, restoring more of the drapery than survives on the original to create an elegant outline to the proper left side.

Literature

Lippold, Griechische Plastik, 336 (n.8)
Ruesch, Guide to the National Museum, Naples, 85-6, fig.30


If you have any further information about this object, please contact us: worksofart@soane.org.uk