Heermann, Paul (1673-1732) | Sculptor
The almost comical group does not show a banal courtship, but an allegorical battle: the bound "earthly love" is chastised by the "heavenly love". In three other groups, the two were seen scuffling (art trade), reconciling (lost) and finally the "Amor sacro" being crowned with laurel by the "Amor profano" (Los Angeles, County Museum). In these sculptures, Heermann pulled out all the stops, especially in terms of composition and expression.
In an early travel guide from the early eighteenth century, Paul Heermann’s marble putti were descried as a ‘becoming ornament’. Originally, the series comprised four pairs of putti. Together with this pair entitled Punishment, the other pairs were Quarrel, with two little putti trying to tear each other’s hair out, Reconciliation, with a kiss between adversaries – a work only surviving as a plaster copy – and Reward. The latter shows only one of the two putti as it is crowned with a victor’s wreath by a little girl.
All the figures are vibrant and lively. In his day, Paul Heermann was famous for infusing his sculptures with lightness and movement, seeming to defy the gravity of his marble material. Taken together, the series of four paired figures tells the story of the battle between love and passion, reason and emotions or – as it was called in the baroque period – between heavenly and earthly love.
The decisive clue here comes in the form of the blindfold tied around the kneeling putto’s eyes. Cupid, the god of love, was sometimes depicted wearing a blindfold – a symbol of how arbitrarily he shoots off his arrows of desire, making people fall in love who actually otherwise have little in common.
Yet even without this symbolic level, it’s only too clear what a gifted observer Heermann must have been – able to depict children romping and tussling with each other and, at the same time, visibly express their high spirits, anger, and pain, as well as tender reconciliation and, finally, a triumphant victor.
- Material & Technique
- Alabaster or Marble
- Inventory number
- ZV 4296