Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716-1791)
Sèvres, musée national de la Céramique
Matière de l’original : Biscuit de porcelaine tendre
This sculpture is variously entitled “Psyche”, “Nymph” or “Little Girl Hiding Cupid’s Arrows”. It was created by Etienne-Maurice Falconet as the companion piece to “Menacing Cupid” and was probably exhibited in plaster at the Salon of 1761. It is not known exactly when the Sevres Porcelain Factory made a version in soft bisque porcelain; it was likely shortly thereafter.
Like her male counterpart, this little girl is nude and appears just as mischievous. Both sculptures bear witness to the 18th century’s taste for themes of love. Yet there reigns a certain ambiguity: are these children old enough to be playing love games? Such ambiguity is eclipsed or forgiven thanks to the overt reference to antiquity.
What still touches us today is the admirable naturalness attained by the sculptor. This child is not simpering or unsettling; she exudes the natural grace of childhood.