Menu logoclose icon

Bowdoin College BCMA Logo Museum of Art

  • "Tolimino"
    Type: inscription
    Location: lower right
    Materials: black chalk
  • "(No. 74)"
    Type: inscription
    Location: lower right
    Materials: graphite
  • Strasbourg bend, fleur-de-lis above
    Type: watermark
  • James Bowdoin III( Collector, Boston) - 1811.
  • Bowdoin College Museum of Art( Museum, Brunswick, Maine) 1811- . Bequest
  • Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College
    • Bowdoin College Museum of Art. ( 5/17/1985 - 7/7/1985)
    • Clark Art Institute. ( 9/14/1985 - 10/27/1985)
    • University of Kansas. ( 1/19/1986 - 3/2/1986)
    • Art Gallery of Ontario. ( 5/17/1986 - 6/29/1986)

Charles Eliot Norton, in a letter dated November 23, 1885 to Henry Johnson at the BCMA, suggested that the inscription represented an attribution to Francesco Solimena (1657–1747). However, as David P. Becker noted in his catalogue entry on the work in Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College, Norton's conclusion has not found broad support.  Jennifer Montagu identified the subject as Psyche, a mortal who was loved by the god Cupid, being carried up to Olympus for their marriage. Cupid, on the cloud in center under Jupiter, is rushing to embrace Psyche, who is escorted by Mercury. The other gods of Olympus, some carrying identifiable attributes, are gathered around to witness the reunion.

Laura Giles proposed the attribution to Domenico Mondo, who was active in Naples in the last half of the eighteenth century. One of the most prolific draftsmen in the city, his drawings are often described as painterly because of his technique. Mondo preferred brush and wash, heightened with white, to execute rapid sketches (Campanelli and Funel, 60-1). No painting of the subject of Cupid and Psyche has been recorded in the catalogue of the artist’s work (Campinelli 1997), but the drawing is comparable to a number of other sheets by Mondo, such as the Triumph of the Church, dated to 1780–1785 in the Albertina (fig. 1). The unusual shape of the border indicates that this was likely a study for a ceiling painting or overdoor.

With the attribution to Mondo, it is impossible for this drawing to have been purchased by John Smibert during his trip to Italy. As Mondo spent his career in Naples, it is possible that James Bowdoin III bought the drawing during his Grand Tour, when he stayed in Naples from January to March in the year 1774.

Sarah Cantor


Campinelli, Daniela. Domenico Mondo: Un solimenesco in Terra di Lavoro. Naples: Electa, 1997.

Campanelli, Daniela and Simonetta Funel. “Ancora su Domenico Mondo: disegni da una raccolta napoletana,” Paragone 52, no. 619 (September 2001): 60-85


Fig. 1: Domenico Mondo Triumph of the Church, 1780-85, pen and brown ink, gray wash, over black chalk on blue paper, Grafische Sammlung, Albertina, Vienna, 24399[24399]&showtype=record

Commentary credited to David P. Becker (or not otherwise captioned) appeared in his catalogue Old Master Drawings at Bowdoin College (Brunswick: Bowdoin College Museum of Art, 1985).