The Abduction of Psyche by Zephyrus to the Palace of Eros
After 1808, probably before 1820
Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (French, 1758-1823)
On View

The fable of Psyche was widely read and depicted in the early 19th century. In classical mythology, the beautiful young Psyche incurs the envy of Aphrodite, the goddess of beauty. To eliminate her competition, Aphrodite sends her son Eros to make Psyche fall in love with a hideous creature. In a twist of fate, Eros falls in love with Psyche instead. Pierre-Paul Prud’hon depicts Psyche being swept away by Zephyrus, the god of the west wind, to Eros’s palace, where the two lovers will marry.

Prud’hon’s style benefited from his study of the Renaissance masters, particularly Correggio. His technique made ample use of chiaroscuro, and in combination with his romantic subject matter, accounted for the popularity of his work. Prud’hon’s larger version of this composition was well received in the Salon of 1808. This is one of several copies of the painting made to satisfy the public’s voracious demand after the original, now in the Louvre.


  • Artist Name: Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (French, 1758-1823)
  • Title: The Abduction of Psyche by Zephyrus to the Palace of Eros
  • Date: After 1808, probably before 1820
  • Medium: Oil on canvas
  • Dimensions: 39-3/4 x 32-1/2 (101 x 82.5 cm)
  • Credit Line: Norton Simon Art Foundation
  • Accession Number: M.1985.1.P
  • Copyright: © Norton Simon Art Foundation

Object Information

Possibly Prud’hon (Posthumous sale, Paris, 1823, May 13-14, lot 10, sold for 541 francs to);
“Frédéric” [Henry], art expert.
Henry Camille Marcel (1854-1926), Paris, by 1923.
[Dr. Fritz and Dr. Peter Nathan, Zurich, by April 1972.]
[Jan Milner, London, in partnership with Shepherd Gallery Associates, New York, 1978.]
[French & Co., New York, 1979-80.]
(sale, New York, Sotheby’s, 28 May 1981, lot 20, ill., as L’Enlèvement de Psyché, to;)
[Paul Rosenberg & Co., New York, stock no. 2867-6577, sold 25 January 1985 to;]
Norton Simon Art Foundation.

French Art of the 19th and 20th Centuries

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French Nineteenth Century Oil Sketches: David to Degas

  • William Hayes Ackland Memorial Art Center, 1978-03-05 to 1978-04-16

A Revolution of the Palette: The First Synthetic Blues and their Impact on French Artists

  • Norton Simon Museum, 2015-07-17 to 2016-01-04

Reinstallation of Galleries: Art History of the 17th and 18th Century Gains Fresh Dimension

  • Norton Simon Museum, 1993-09-02 to 1995-08-13
  • Gazette des Beaux-Arts, p. 32
  • Masterpieces from the Norton Simon Museum, p. 112
  • Guiffrey, Jean, L'oeuvre de P. P. Prud'hon, 1924,
  • Wintermute, Alan, 1789: French Art During the Revolution, 1989, p. 196 (fig. 1)
  • Laveissière, S., Pierre-Paul Pud'hon, 1997, pp. 240-243
  • Guffey, Elizabeth E., Drawing an Elusive Line: The Art of Pierre-Paul Prud'hon, 2001, fig. 92 pp. 133-137
  • Brettell, Richard R. and Stephen F. Eisenman, Nineteenth-Century Art in the Norton Simon Museum, volume 1, 2006,
  • Campbell, Sara, Collector Without Walls: Norton Simon and His Hunt for the Best, 2010, cat. 1722 p. 439

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