David used the story of Cupid and Psyche to explore the conflict between idealized love and physical reality. Cupid, lover of the beautiful mortal Psyche, visited her nightly on the condition that she not know his identity. Cupid was usually depicted as an ideal adolescent, but here David presents him as an ungainly teenager smirking at his sexual conquest.David took inspiration from a number of ancient texts, including an obscure, recently published Greek poem by Moschus that describes Cupid as a mean-spirited brat with dark skin, flashing eyes, and curly hair.

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  • Title: Cupid and Psyche
  • Creator: Jacques-Louis David (French, 1748-1825)
  • Date Created: 1817
  • Physical Dimensions: Framed: 221 x 282 x 10 cm (87 x 111 x 3 15/16 in.); Unframed: 184.2 x 241.6 cm (72 1/2 x 95 1/8 in.)
  • Provenance: Giovanni Battista Comte de Sommariva [1760-1826], his sale February 18-23, 1839, sold to Dubois., (Dubois, Paris, France, February 18-23, 1839, lot 1), James Alexandre Comte de Pourtalès [1776-1855], Paris. France., Pourtalès-Gorgier sale, Paris, France, March 27, 1865 (lot 242), ff 1,450 sold to Madame de Furtado, 1880., Madame de Furtado [1821-1896], Paris, France, M. Eisenschitz ? (See distinguishing marks label), Prince Murat by 1913. Princesse Murat. Murat sale, Palais Galliéra, Paris, France, March 2, 1961 (lot 140), ff 245,000., (Rosenberg & Stiebel, New York, NY sold to the Cleveland Museum of Art), The Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
  • Type: Painting
  • Rights: CC0
  • External Link: https://clevelandart.org/art/1962.37
  • Medium: oil on canvas
  • Inscriptions: Signed in yellow in arm of the couch: L. David 1817 Bruxelles
  • Fun Fact: Jacques-Louis David included two butterflies in this painting: one above the slumbering Psyche and the other on the base of the couple's bed frame.
  • Department: Modern European Painting and Sculpture
  • Culture: France, 19th century
  • Credit Line: Leonard C. Hanna, Jr. Fund
  • Collection: Mod Euro - Painting 1800-1960
  • Accession Number: 1962.37

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