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Philippe Bertrand (1663-1724)

Psyche and Mercury c. 1700

RCIN 21641

Philippe Bertrand exhibited a bronze of L'Enlèvement de Psyché at the Salon of 1704; the group was paired with the Enlèvement d'Hélène (now at Fontainebleau) which had been submitted as Bertrand's reception piece for the French Academy in 1701; his Prometheus was in the same exhibition. The composition of this bronze has also been identified by Levey as the Mercure qui enlève Pandore which was shown at the 1704 Salon by René Frémin (1672-1722). If this were correct, the lidded vase which the female figure holds up in her left hand would be Pandora's famous box. However, in other representations of the Psyche episode, not least the two famous groups by Adriaen de Vries in Stockholm and Paris, she is carrying in a similar way the vase in which she kept a portion of Proserpina's beauty. What is represented here is not strictly an abduction (enlèvement), since the female figure would appear to be travelling on a seat of clouds with the assistance of Mercury. In neither scenario is the third figure - a hideous serpent-crowned crone clutching a flaming torch - readily identifiable, but in the most recent discussion of the groups, François Souchal suggests that she may represent a Fury from the underworld, from whom Psyche had victoriously succeeded in escaping. Another cast, with variations, is in the Hermitage, St Petersburg. Catalogue entry from Royal Treasures, A Golden Jubilee Celebration, London 2002