The present pair of bronzes of the mythological lovers Cupid and Psyche represents a twist to Lucius Apuleius' 2nd century AD tale of The Golden Ass where the immortal and mortal lovers are depicted as infants. With this pairing the sculptor Filippo della Valle (1698-1768) has created a sense of playfulness and sensuality as well as a highly tactile and engaging overall composition.
At least three near-identical bronze pairings of Cupid and Psyche derive from the models attributed to della Valle: a pair in the Museum Schloss Fasanerie, Eichenzell (Berlin, Staatlichen Museen, Von Allen Seiten Schön - Bronze der Renaissance und des Barock, 31 Oct. 1995 - 28 Jan. 1996, nos. 241-2), another in the Museo Nazionale del Bargello, Florence and the pair offered here. The models can be attributed to him on the basis of their close connection to an engraving of 1732 where della Valle represents Cupid and Psyche in a near identical pose - albeit as a single group as opposed to two separate figures - and dedicates it to one of his patrons, the Florentine art connoisseur Niccolò Gabburri. The group is also recorded in Della Valle's inventory taken after his death in 1768 and listed by his biographers among his works.
In the 1980s Schlegel also suggested that the models upon which the Bargello, the Eichenzell bronzes and, by extension, the pair offered here, could also be attributable to della Valle on the basis of style (cited in ibid, nos 241-242). She did, however, also conclude that the Bargello bronzes had a distinctly Florentine feel which was markedly different from the Eichenzell pair. This is possibly explained by the fact that della Valle commissioned the casting of the Bargello bronzes while he was working in Florence and subsequently cast the bronzes offered here, along with the Eichenzell versions, when he relocated to Rome in the 1720s.
Della Valle was the nephew of Giovanni Battista Foggini, court sculptor of the Medici Grand Dukes. After training with his uncle, della Valle moved to Rome circa 1725, where he opened his own workshop and became one of the most prolific sculptors of his age. His elegant style, attention to detail and intimate and sensual approach, attracted numerous commissions from Popes Clement XII and Benedict XIV, such as the monument for Pope Innocent XII. Throughout his work he was most successful in the rendering of delicate figures of the putti and in the intense sensibility of his female allegories.