One of the more mysterious objects in Hutch’s possession is the small statuette that depicts the classical story of Cupid and Psyche. It is there in his Canal Cottage from 01-07 The Pariah onward, sometimes outside behind the alcove window (see: the party in The Deadly Imposter), but mostly it lives on the cable reel coffee table, where it’s always seen in Venice Place, too.
I call the statuette mysterious, because I’ve personally struggled to understand why Hutch keeps this rather ugly, worn piece of sculpture: maybe he wants to be a “god of love” himself, or is on a quest for eternal love – but surely there would be more aesthetically pleasing versions of these mythical lovers? I am not a fan of depicting Cupid/Eros as a cute toddler, but it’s a tradition that goes back to the Hellenistic era, so who am I to argue? And Hutch apparently values the statuette: he even fixes it after Cupid loses its right wing during Season 2 (screenshots below are from 02-18 Survival and 03-15 A Body Worth Guarding). The left wing seems to have been missing all along.
The chubby, baby-faced Cupid or “little angel” became a popular motif in cheap kitsch art during the 20th century, and the price of the statuette, when it surfaced in 20th Century’s prop auction in 2009, isn’t really a surprise: it sold for $0.01. According to the auctioneer, it had been used in the television series The Bold and The Beautiful, and in the movie I Now Pronounce You Chuck And Larry. Starsky and Hutch isn’t mentioned in the provenance, but since they say the items in this prop collection had been used in television and movie productions in Los Angeles area for over 20 years, the odds are that this statuette (below), now painted white and with Cupid’s wings fixed, is the exact same item that was used in Starsky and Hutch. The details match.
The white paint brings out the statuette’s finer details, which led me to search for a possible original artwork it might be based on. I got lucky and found it without too much trouble: if you ever happen to be in London, UK, and want to see the original marble statue, visit the Wallace Collection in Hertford House – it’s free! The statuette in the Wallace Collection was long attributed to the French sculptor Claude-Augustin Cayot, whose signature and the year 1706 are on it for some obscure reason, but it was recently discovered to be a Italian piece by Filippo della Valle (1698 – 1768). So what I have judged as a kitschy piece of junk is actually based on a rather fine example of Baroque art from early 18th century (ca. 1730). Even if Hutch’s ceramic copy is a little rough in places compared to the original (below), the statuette now fits in with the rest of Hutch’s stuff – he does have a rather eclectic collection of European art in his apartment, from art posters to other small sculptures. The pittance the statuette was sold for in the auction in 2009 starts to sound like an insult: I doubt the person who bought it knows what this tiny piece of television history would mean to many, many Hutch girls out there…
Cupid and Psyche by Filippo della Valle (Rome, ca. 1730, marble). Photo from the Wallace Collection.