Late 19th Century set of four baroque style cast stone putti, each figure modelled playing a different instrument; flute, lute, and tambourine. One sole Putti represents Cupid holding his bow and arrow aloft. The collection of Putti are variously posed, seated on a sphere atop a socle and raised on a separate plinth of ogee profile decorated with lion’s head ring handles.
Putto, plural putti, a nude chubby child figure, often with wings, frequently appearing in both mythological and religious paintings and sculpture, especially of the Renaissance and Baroque periods. Derived from personifications of love, or Eros figures, in Greek and Roman art, putti came to be used to portray cherubim in Italian paintings of the 15th century, especially those of the Madonna and Child. With the revival of classical mythological subjects in the late 15th century, Cupid was commonly represented as a putto, and numbers of anonymous putti were frequently depicted in attendance on various immortals.
Putti proliferates in popular culture: on buildings, in decorative arts, on greeting cards – a popular purveyor of love. But in Art through the ages, the putto has been a curious little figure, often reflecting philosophy, theology and literature of the time. The putto in Renaissance art was a winged or wingless, male child figure. The word putto (plural putti) in Italian vernacular was derived from Latin putus, meaning “boy.” Putti were secular, sometimes profane and definitely not part of the nine choirs of angels. However, in the Baroque period of art, the putto was often used in a religious context and the distinction between being secular and ecclesiastic became less defined. The conception of the putto reaches back in art to the ancient classical world, where winged infants were physical manifestations of invisible essences or spirits called genius, genii, that were believed to influence human lives. Love putti (erote) were familiars of Eros and Venus. In Bacchanals, which were celebrations of Dionysius (Bacchus), putti represented fertility, abundance, the spirit of the fruit of life and were often depicted in wild revelry.
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