Psyche | MSK Gent
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Psyche, ca. 1894

  • ivory (material), marble (rock)
  • 29.9 x 13.6 x 13.6 cm
  • Inv. 1924-N

Public Domain

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The museum has a splendid collection of sculptures by Paul De Vigne. The Ghent born artist belonged to the realistic movement amongst Belgian sculptors, who sought their inspiration in Italian Renaissance sculpture and from the French sculptor Jean-Baptiste Carpeaux, who was highly influential in Belgium. In portraits and allegorical figures, De Vigne combined a degree of classicism with a surprising natural quality, as illustrated in Psyche, Greek for both soul and butterfly. The head is slightly askance, the neck outstretched and the skin depicted in great detail. The contrast between the girl’s youthfulness and her serious gaze lends this Psyche a particular intensity. The statue is made of ivory, a favourite material of sculptors at the end of the 19th century. The Greek word ‘psyche’ means both ‘soul’ and ‘butterfly’. Hence the butterfly wings on her back. In antiquity, butterflies were associated with death, but in the Christian tradition with resurrection. In relation to the dragonfly on the plinth, a symbol for elegance and weightlessness, but also for sin, the sculpture might also be a reference to the battle between good and evil.


Paul De Vigne RKD VIAF Wikidata
Ghent 1843 - Brussels 1901

Title Psyche
Date ca. 1894
Period 19th century
Signatures, inscriptions, and markings signatures (names) on the back, on the base: Paul De Vigne.
inscription below: 136
labels (identifying artifacts): nr 85
Collection sculpture AAT
Object type ivories (sculptures) AAT
Inventory number 1924-N
Acquisition credit bequest
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
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
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
Paul De Vigne 1843-1901 / Oscar Roelandts. - Gent : Koninklijke Academie van Schoone Kunsten, 1931-1932 (p. 33-34)
Le sculpteur Paul De Vigne 1843-1901 : Etude biographiques et catalogue des oeuvres / Mariette Fransolet. - Bruxelles : Paleis der Academiën, 1960 (p. 68, cat. 37; p. 193, cat. 37)
'De Vigne Paul', in: De 19de-eeuwse Belgische beeldhouwkunst / Jacques Van Lennep. - Brussel : Generale Bank, [s.a.] (dl. II, p. 204, 354)
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. 111 (ill.), 171 (ill.))
200 jaar verzamelen : Collectieboek Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent / Arnout Balis, Robert Hoozee, Maximiliaan P.J. Martens, Paul Van Haute. - Gent : Ludion, 2000 (p. 273 (ill. 85))
Het Museum voor Schone Kunsten Gent : een keuze uit de mooiste werken / Patrick De Rynck. - Gent : Ludion, 2007 (p. 72 (ill.))
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