Sleeping Eros (w.d.)




In the second decade of the 17th century, Giovanni Battista Caracciolo created this vision of a sleeping red-haired Eros whose body seems to be of a rather pale complexion - or is it the bright light of a cool autumn morning which falls upon the youth only minutes before he wakes up? His slightly exhausted facial expression, however, suggests that he is just succumbing to sleep after a long night of stirring emotional turmoil among the mortal Greeks. His right arm is placed as if Eros is resting his head in his elbow during his sleep. The drapery of red velvet and the splendorous pillow on which he lies convey the impression of aristocratic luxury. But his physicalness with almost unnoticable imperfections in shape are bringing this young god of love closer to reality than many unreal idealizations of Eros by other painters.

Giovanni Battista Caracciolo, who was also called Battistello, lived from 1578 to 1635. In style an early follower of Caravaggio, he also established the Neapolitan school of Caravaggism. The theme of the sleeping Cupid is varied by Battistello in several of his works - with many of his subjects being a few years younger. The youth who posed for the creation above also appears in another painting by Caracciolo, this time as John the Baptist - and temptatiously wide awake.