A young nude woman sits with her arms outstretched, pushing away a winged boy. He is Cupid, the god of love, holding up an arrow to pierce her. The title suggests that the young woman is trying to defend herself, yet she smiles and struggles unconvincingly against the mischievous little god.
Visitors to the Paris exhibitions of the 1870s and 1880s loved William-Adolphe Bouguereau's paintings. The Getty Museum's painting repeats a larger composition that Bouguereau made for the Paris Salon in 1880; a viewer probably saw the larger version there and requested a smaller one for private viewing.
Bouguereau placed his mythological fantasy in an idyllic, Arcadian landscape. In fact, he made this composition in his studio, copying the landscape from the neighboring French countryside and using one of his favorite models.