Girl with Doves (Innocence), 1819-20

(14) Ridolfo Schadow: Girl with Doves, marble, 1819/20

Marble, SPSG Skulpt.slg. 5580

This version of Innocence (14) was created for Schadow himself, at roughly the same time as the first version for Prince Miklos Esterházy. With this work Schadow intended to complete his group. However, following his death the figure did not find its way to the other three, but stood alone in the Berlin Palace. What stands out is the floral wreath, which Cupid also holds, and which can be seen as an indication of his final choice. A portrait produced by Ridolfo, assumed to be that of his fiancée Elena, closely resembles the girl.



In a drawing (Kunsthalle Bremen) Schadow depicts a young woman with a wreath in her hair who is looking attentively at a dove (20). Portrayals of girls with birds can already be found in antiquity, on Greek grave reliefs. It is possible that Schadow also saw the famous Girl with Bird in the Capitoline Museums in Rome. The myth of the bird in connection with young women is multifaceted: In Archaic period art Kores (girls of ideal beauty at marrying age) frequently have a bird on their hand or arm. The dove in particular was seen as the animal companion of the Goddess of Love Aphrodite/Venus. It symbolizes shyness, delicacy and innocence on the one side, and fertility on the other. The child god Harpocrates, the Hellenic version of the ancient Egyptian Horus, was also occasionally depicted with a dove: He brought about the Nile flood, which made bountiful arable farming possible. The gesture displayed by Harpocrates, with the finger placed to the mouth, was also employed by Schadow in his Cupid.

The Girl with Doves reveals the secret of the group: The person depicted is identical to Elena Buti, who Schadow is supposed to have become secretly engaged to. The same facial features and wreath of roses can be found in his bust from 1816 (LETTER-Stiftung), presumably a portrait of Elena (21). So Cupid had made his decision, which of the three girls he will choose!

Silke Kiesant