Psyche imploring the help of Ceres and Juno

Parisian Workshop, Psyche imploring the help of Ceres and Juno, first half of the sixteenth century, from a series of the History of Psyche, wool and silk, 295 × 370 cm


Palazzo Vendramin Grimani, 2022

  • Subject: from the Latin novel by Apuleius (second century AD), The Golden Ass or the Metamorphoses.
  • Model: variously identified, probably a Flemish painter of the sixteenth century.
  • Place of weaving: an unidentified Parisian workshop that took over a Brussels weave of the first half of the sixteenth century (intended for François I) in the mid-17th century, wool and silk, 295 x 370 cm

Psyche is a princess whose beauty arouses the jealousy of Venus. To take revenge, the goddess asks her son Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with the vilest man imaginable. But Cupid, wounded by one of his own arrows, himself falls in love with her. Meanwhile, having no suitor and on the command of Apollo’s oracle, Psyche’s father deposits her on a mountain to expose her to abduction by a cruel monster. In reality, it is the wind Zephyr that wafts her to a marvellous valley where there is a palace. There, she is joined at night by an unknown being, actually Cupid, who demands that she never try to look on his face. Saddened by the loss of her family, Psyche invites her sisters to the palace, who, jealous of her happiness, persuade her that this ‘husband’ is none other than the monster of the oracle and that she must kill him. Frightened, Psyche draws close to Cupid with a candle and wakes him up when a hot drop of wax falls on him. He is furious and flees. Psyche then wanders afar and meets the goddesses Ceres (indicated by an ear of wheat) and Juno (with her peacock) who both refuse her help. This ordeal will be followed by many others, before the marriage of the lovers before Jupiter. On this tapestry, the two episodes of Psyche’s visits to the temple of Ceres and then Juno are combined in a single scene in a hilly natural setting. The clothes are sumptuous. This scene is set in a rich border formed, in the horizontal parts, of plant scrolls with busts of hybrid beings, and in the vertical parts, of a superposition of various elements.