Cupid, having fallen in love with Psyche, brought her to a beautiful palace where he visited her every night but never during the day. In this painting she is amusing herself by playing with her usual attribute, the butterfly. Both Psyche and the butterfly symbolise the human soul and Poynter has wittily suggested the connection by having Psyche entice the butterfly into the palace with a flower. The doves of Venus, Psyche’s great enemy, fly ominously in the background.


  • Title: Psyche in the Temple of Love
  • Creator: Edward John Poynter
  • Date Created: 1882
  • tag / style: Edward John Poynter; Psyche; mythological; Cupid; palace; temple; attribute; butterfly; flower; doves; Venus; woman; draped; aesthetic; art for art's sake
  • Physical Dimensions: w507 x h663 cm (Without frame)
  • Artist biographical information: The British painter Edward John Poynter was born in Paris 1836, son of Ambrose Poynter, an architect and watercolour painter. Poynter studied in London and in Paris and first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1861. He was knighted in 1896 and in 1894 was appointed Director of the National Gallery.
  • Additional artwork information: To learn more about the Walker Art Gallery's 19th-century collections, please follow this link: http://www.liverpoolmuseums.org.uk/walker/collections/19c/
  • Type: Oil on canvas
  • Rights: Presented by the Local Committee of the Social Science Congress Meeting in Liverpool in 1882

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