These famous Sèvres figures are known as Les Amours Falconet, after the models by Etienne-Maurice Falconet (1716 - 1791). Originally conceived by the artist in 1755, his plaster for the figure of Cupid was exhibited in the Salon of that year. Two years later a marble version made for Madame de Pompadour was showcased at the same venue. Subsequent to his appointment as director of sculpture at Sèvres (1757 - 1766), Falconet adapted his model of Cupid for biscuit porcelain. The companion figure of Psyche was created in 1761 and executed only in biscuit.
Pedestals designed for these two figures also appear as of 1761, alternatively inscribed with single lines taken from Virgil's Eclogues (x, 69): OMNIA VINCIT AMOR for Cupid and ET NOS CEDAMUS AMORI for Psyche or with couplets by Voltaire. Composed by the poet in 1723, the inscription on Cupid's present stand translates as 'Who'er thou art, thy master see, who is, or was, or ought to be'. The inscription on Psyche's stand responds to her lover's line with 'My master thou art not, nor hast been, As master of mine shalt ne'er be seen'. Often glazed, the inscriptions can be reserved against a variety of ground colours, most often bleu lapis or bleu Nouveau. They are also known in biscuit, the inscription enamelled in blue.
Following the introduction of Psyche, large numbers of this charming pair were purchased by the French elite. Among the most notable figures to obtain these models were Madame de Pompadour, Madame Victoire, and Louis XVI. In 1764, Henri Bertin, then Secretary of State, even dispatched a pair to the Emperor of China.
For an exhaustive discussion of the genesis, sales records and other recorded specimens of this model, see R. Savill, The Wallace Collection Catalogue of Sèvres Porcelain, London, 1988, vol. II, pp. 823 - 834. Also see Brigitte Ducrot, Porcelains et Terres de Sèvres, Paris, 1993, p. 314, fig. 254 for a similar pair dated 1867.