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Love's Mirror

85 in. (215.9 cm)

Nicola Cantalamessa-Papotti
Italy (active 1831 - 1910)

Object Type: Sculpture
Medium and Support: Marble
Credit Line: Gift of the Isaac Gordon estate
Accession Number: 1966.20
Location: Currently on view
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Collection: The Daniel C. Powers Collection

When Rochester businessman and art collector Daniel Powers brought this piece home from the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia in 1876, it made local headlines. One newspaper article admired its “grace and life-likeness rarely met with in modern composition.” The sculpture was on view at Powers’ own gallery downtown for many years, for an admission charge of $.25. Cantalamessa-Papotti also made a portrait of Powers and the monuments for the families of Rochester nurserymen Ellwanger and Barry, at Mt. Hope and Holy Sepulchre cemeteries.

Interpretations of the figures vary: the Powers Gallery catalogue identified the subject as Cupid giving a girl her first lesson in love by means of a mirror, but the figures may in fact be Cupid with his mother Venus, who is often shown holding a mirror. Mythological and allegorical characters were beloved of academic artists, who could illustrate an abstract quality such as vanity while demonstrating their prowess at depicting the human figure.

[Gallery label text, 2011]

Purchased by D.W. Powers from the Centennial Exposition, 1876.

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