Psyche | MSK Gent
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Psyche, ca. 1878

  • gypsum
  • 61.8 x 30 x 27.6 cm
  • Inv. 1903-KK

Public Domain

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The museum owns a rich collection of sculptures by Paul De Vigne. The Ghent artist belonged to the realist movement among Belgian sculptors who found inspiration in Italian Renaissance sculpture and in Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, a French sculptor who was very influential in Belgium. In portraits and allegorical figures, as here with this Psyche, De Vigne combined a certain classicism with a surprising naturalness. The girl's head is slightly inclined, the neck is stretched and the skin is reproduced in detail. The contrast between her serious look and her youthful age gives her a special power. The Greek 'psyche' means both 'soul' and 'butterfly'. Hence the butterfly wings on her back. In antiquity, the butterfly refers to death, in Christian tradition to resurrection. In relation to the dragonfly on the pedestal, a symbol of elegance and lightness, but also of sin, it possibly refers to the struggle between good and evil.


Paul De Vigne RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ghent 1843 - Brussels 1901

Title Psyche
Date ca. 1878
Period 19th century
Signatures, inscriptions, and markings signatures (names) on the back, below the shoulder: Paul De Vigne
Collection sculpture AAT
Object type gypsum AAT
Inventory number 1903-KK
Acquisition credit purchase
De Vigne-De Nayere, Aline
Current whereabouts Work on display
IIIF Manifest
Art & Architecture Thesaurus 300417629 mythologies (religious concept) AAT
Keywords Iconclass 12F13 representations ~ gods, demi-gods, heroes etc. (Roman religion) Iconclass
25F animals Iconclass
25F711(BUTTERFLY) insects: butterfly Iconclass
31A2421 head turned to the left Iconclass
31A458 fabulous beings with wings Iconclass
31B6213 looking sideways Iconclass
31B6231 lips pressed together Iconclass
48C24(+32) piece of sculpture, reproduction of a piece of sculpture (+ sculpture) Iconclass
9 Classical Mythology and Ancient History Iconclass
85 fables Iconclass
92 gods ~ classical mythology Iconclass
92D192 Psyche Iconclass
92D1921 story of Cupid and Psyche (Apuleius, 'Metamorphoses' (Golden Ass) IV 28 - VI 25) Iconclass
School / Style historicism (theory) AAT
Catalogue du Musée des Beaux-Arts de Gand, publié par les soins de la Commision directrice / Georges Charles Nicolas Marie Hulin de Loo, Albert Dutry, Joseph Casier, Louis Maeterlinck. - Gand : Imprimerie C. Annoot-Braeckman, 1909 ; Gand : Ad. Hoste, 1909 (p. 148)
De Vigne (fam.) (Fonds Richard de Moor). - [s.l.] : [s.n.], [s.a.]
Le sculpteur Paul De Vigne 1843-1901 : Etude biographiques et catalogue des oeuvres / Mariette Fransolet. - Bruxelles : Paleis der Academiën, 1960 (p. 193, cat. 37)
De vrienden van Scribe : De Europese smaak van een Gents mecenas (tentoonstelling Gent, Museum voor Schone Kunsten, 12 december 1998 - 14 maart 1999) / Monique Tahon-Vanroose, Robert Hoozee. - Gent : Snoeck-Ducaju & Zoon, 1998 ; Antwerpen : Pandora, 1998 (p. 171 (ill.))
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