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Painting Title Cupid and Psyche
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist AfterBouguereau, William-Adolphe (French painter and draftsman, 1825-1905)
Date Earliest 1886
Date Latest about 1900
Description The subject is described in Apuleius' Metamorphoses (or The Golden Ass) in the 2nd century AD. Amor/Cupid and Psyche fell in love with each other, but needed to overcome many obstacles until finally managing to get married and live happily ever after. The two characters symbolise a true love that combines desire (Amor/Cupid) and a connection of the souls (Psyche). Although the myth is telling about a relationship between two adults, Cupid and Psyche were often depicted as children, to show that they were born to be together. Additionally, the children's innocence illustrates the idea that Cupid's original attraction to Psyche was not purely physical, but also platonic; it refers to the innocence of childhood to show that a true love is pure and good. This painting is a copy after L'amour Vainqueur by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, painted in 1886 (sold at Christie's, New York, 25 May 1984 (lot 79), now in a private collection).
Current Accession Number YORAG : 113
Subject mythology (Amor and Psyche); figure
Measurements 36.8 x 30.5 cm
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Purchased from Mr. Askew, Leeds, from funds from the G.J. Wolstenholme Bequest 1948.
Publications PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 5, January 1949, vol. II, p.59 ill. as by W. Etty; PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 28, October 1954, vol. VII, p. 290; York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. III: English and European 19th and 20th centuries, The Reserve Collection, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1974, p. 96; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 243 as by Bouguereau.

The composition was popular, it was reproduced as an engraving (Gravures, Photogravures, Lithographies & Photographies… by Valadon et Cie Boussod, 1886, no. 205) and also sculpted by Adolphe Itasse.

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) was a French academic artist, a quintessential salon painter of his generation, who received many prizes and enjoyed popularity in France and the United States. He often depicted classical subjects, concentrating mainly on quite erotic depictions of female nudes. By the early 20th century his art lost its popularity, mostly due to changing tastes and general rejection of the academic art.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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