Psyche Revived by Cupid's Kiss

A masterpiece by an Italian sculptor Antonio Canova. It is based on a myth about Cupid and Psyche. It is a romantic piece, characterized by high emotion. Once lived a king and queen who has a daughter named Psyche. She was so beautiful, that the locals venerated her as a goddess thus angering Venus, the real goddess of beauty who was known for her jealousy. Venus sent her son Cupid to kill Psyche, but he falls in love with her.  Psyche's father, in despair of seeing his daughter unmarried consult the oracle which tells him that horrible things will happen unless he abandons his daughter on a rock, which, of course, he willingly does. Psyche trembles on a rock and felt a gentle breeze... which was Cupid in disguise. He took her to a beautiful palace and made love to her every night forbidding her to see his face. From then on, every night, a gentle breeze comes into Psyches room to make love to her at night, forbidding her to turn the light on.... But, the curiosity! one night, Psyche lights a candle to see her lover's face and he flees in fair. Desperate, she goes to Venus to find her love. Venus, being a cruel jealous asshole she is, sends her to do difficult tasks. In the last quest, Psyche was supposed to bring a flask from the underworld without peeking inside. Of course, she peeks and falls into an eternal slumber from which she is awaken by a Cupid's kiss. Moved by such love, gods granted Psyche immortality and made her the goddess of Soul. Psyche is also depicted with butterfly wings because her name in Greek (Psuche) had dual meaning - soul and butterfly. Butterfly wings somehow symbolize immortality. Piff Poff. This story is supposed to symbolize the ordeals a soul has to go through to achieve happiness. Not sure how this fits into the today's world, but, oh well. 

Cupid and Psyche: Psyche is a daughter of a king. She is so beautiful that the villagers forget their devotion to Venus - goddess of beauty. Venus gets angry and sends her son Cupid to revenge Psyche. But, he falls in love with her and marries her on one condition - she musn't look at his face. But she does and Cupid goes away. Psyche, in terrible pain, goes to Venus to beg to bring Cupid back. She just laughs and sends her on many impossible quests which she fullfills. The last one is to retrieve a box from the underworld...BUT she must not peak inside, which she does and falls into eternal slumber. Cupid, upon hearing this, flies to Psyche, kisses her to wake her up, they go to Jupiter to ask for divine status for Psyche, he agrees AND mom Venus is finally ok with their marriage because Psyche is now a goddess. Psuche means "soul" in greek and she is the goddess of the soul. 

There's a handle near Psyche's feet to move the base of the sculpture so it could revolve and be viewed from different angles. 

Antonio Canova carefully prepared for this sculpture - he studied anatomy, embracing couples and made numerous sketches before completing his final version. All his sketches and full-scale preparatory works, which was unusual of the time. He even used custom made curved tools so that he could reach into the tiniest caveats of his work. His mastery can be summed up in one slogan "Antonio Canova - when marble becomes flesh". One of the hardest materials on earth depicts one of the softest, most sensitive looking scenes. Canova was far from a starving artists - he received numerous prestigious commissions by the pope and aristocrats, had his own workshop full of helpers and lived quite well.

Antonio Canova was offered two court position - one Catherine II of Russia and Napoleon, but refused both saying that he was an independent artist and that "art was above politics".  

This work received great success though he had his critics. Their critics mostly complained that there is no fixed point from where the statue should be viewed , multiple points are possible. So, they argued, you're left running around the statue, not sure where to look. I'm not convinced about the soundness of this argument, other people also weren't convinced and his work was imitated, replicas and derivative works were made, the sculpture was even on snuffboxes.
 Some examples:
Calum Colvin (1936) - Cupid and Psyche

Auguste Rodin "Eternal Spring"

Snuffbox with Cupid and Psyche on it (1799)