Beauty and Love (Amor and Psyche)

Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki

  • Beauty and Love (Amor and Psyche) 2
  • Beauty and Love (Amor and Psyche) 3
Basic information
Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki
Beauty and Love (Amor and Psyche)
Date of creation
Russian Empire
oil painting
canvas oil
Dimensions (height x width, cm)
51 x 33.7
Information about author
Henryk Hektor Siemiradzki
Artist's lifetime
Henryk Siemiradzki was a famous artist of Polish origin, a representative of late monumental academism, professor of the Saint Petersburg Academy of Arts, and honorary member of Academies of Fine Arts in Rome, Paris, Berlin and Turin. The artist was born on October 12 (24), 1843, in the village of Novobilhorod near Kharkiv (now the town of Pechenihy, Chuguiv district). Hipolit and Michalina Siemiradzki, his parents, were of Polish descent; the father of the future artist served as an officer in the Imperial Russian Army in the Kharkiv Governorate. Henryk Siemiradzki's talent for painting was recognized at a very early age, so the boy was sent to the Kharkiv gymnasium to get an education. His teacher was Dmytro Bezperchyi, who was a student of the famous artist Karl Briullov. However, after graduating from the gymnasium, the artist’s father insisted on his entering the Faculty of Physics and Mathematics at Kharkiv University. Nonetheless, Henryk Siemiradzki remained engaged in painting. In 1864, the future artist graduated from the university and defended a graduation thesis on "About insect instincts''. Still, associating his career only with art, he went to St. Petersburg to enter the Academy of Arts. There Siemiradzki was initially enrolled as a non-degree student; he studied in the life class mentored by Bogdan Willewalde and Karl Wenig. But later, due to his hard work and talent, Henryk was promoted to the general class, thus he became a full-fledged student of the Academy. In the long run, all that gave rise to the hope of his obtaining the Great Gold Medal and a free internship abroad; the artist managed to bring his hope into life after graduating from the Academy. After all, during his studies at the Academy, Henryk received many awards for his art works. In 1871, the artist went to Munich, where he worked for a year and studied with the German artist Karl Theodor von Piloty. From 1873, he was in Rome. In 1873, he painted the work “Sinner”, which was exhibited at the World's Fair in Vienna; the artist was awarded with the Golden Medal for that masterpiece, and that became his first international award. Later, the painting was sent to St. Petersburg, and the master was awarded the title of Academician for that work. In the same 1873 year, Siemiradzki married Maria Pruszynska. They had four children, namely three boys – Boleslav, Kazimierz (died in infancy), and Leon, and a daughter Wanda. In 1883, Henry bought a house and settled in Rome for good. In 1901, Henryk Siemiradzki was diagnosed with tongue cancer. The 58-year-old artist died on August 23, 1902, in the village of Strzalkowo (now Poland). He was first buried in the Powazki Cemetery in Warsaw near his parents' graves, however, a year later, he was reburied in the Krakow Pauline Church "Na Skalce" (“On the Rock”). The main themes of his work were taken from ancient and sacred stories; less frequently, he painted portraits. The artist’s works are characterized by theatricality, scenic depiction of landscapes, and academic idealization; in his works, the artist managed to capture air effects, light, and variability of colors highly influenced by light.
Object description
The oval-shaped work depicts two human figures. A young woman with wavy red hair gathered in a bundle at the nape of her neck is standing in the left profile with her head slightly lowered, her gaze directed downwards. She is naked, with only a low belt encircling the woman's waist, and a light drapery lightly covering the back of her body. Her left arm is bent and raised at chest level and holds the hand of the young boy-guy, who is mutually touching and lightly hugging the woman's shoulder. The boy stands on a pedestal and leans his face against the girl's face (though his gaze is fixed on the left side). He is dark-haired, with dishevelled curls, he has small wings and in his left hand is a bow. These are allegorical figures symbolising Love and Beauty.
In the bottom left there is a signature: «H.Siemiradzki»