Michelangelo’s “Cupid” to Remain at the Met for Another Decade


Detail, “Cupid,” Michelangelo Buonarroti, ca. 1490, photo: Metropolitan Museum of Art

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has announced that the loan agreement for Michelangelo’s “Cupid” has been renewed. The scupture has been on loan to the Met by the French Embassy since 2009. With the renewed agreement, visitors to the Met will be able to see the scupture on view for another ten years.

“Cupid” is believe to be one of the earliest known sculptures by Michelangelo, completed in about 1490 when the artist was around 15 years old.

The sculpture has unexpected history.  Both the attribution to Michelangelo and the identity of its subject were lost over time.  “Cupid” is probably not a cupid at all; he has never had wings.  In around 1556 he was identified as Apollo.  Whether Apollo was the intended subject is not quite clear, but the identifcation was made during Michelanglo’s lifetime, which gives it some degree of credibility.  Yet, a hundred years later, in 1650, the sculpture was moved to the Villa Borghese in Rome and renamed “Cupid.”

When offered for auction in about 1902 the sculpture was still recognized as the work of Michelangelo, but then attribution was lost or forgotten.  Infamous architect Stanford White eventually purchased it and installed it as a decorative feature of a Fifth Avenue mansion in New York, apparently not realizing it was a Michelangelo. That building is now the location of the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, which owns the sculpture.

Bénédicte de Montlaur, Cultural Counselor of the French Embassy, said that “Michelangelo’s Cupid embodies a beautiful relationship between The Metropolitan Museum of Art and France.”  Max Hollein, the Director of the Met since just last year, said that Michelangelo’s Cupid “emits an emotional and intellectual charge, and it is an honor to present this stunning sculpture to our millions of visitors. We are incredibly grateful to the French Embassy for allowing this historic work to continue to grace our galleries.”

Michelangelo’s Cupid can be viewed in room 503 of the European Sculptural and Decorative Arts gallery in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York.


Michelangelo Buonarroti, 1475-1564.

Cupid ca. 1490, Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/236774

Press release of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Cultural services of the French Embassy in the United States, May 24, 2019.


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