For artists in the eighteenth century the story of Cupid and Psyche symbolised the union of physical love (Cupid) with the soul (Psyche). Here Psyche is shown in sorrow at Cupid's desertion. As the 1857 Patureau sale catalogue put it, the ‘victim...sadly inclines her head ... with all the signs of silent sorrow’. The composition, originally with a pendant depicting Amour (Cupid), was painted for an unidentified amateur with the initials M. B.). A second version is also in The Wallace Collection (Greuze P440). Both are typical of Greuze's sentimentalising portrayals of young women, especial favourites of the 4th Marquess of Hertford, who mentioned his acquisition of the present picture, together with a Bacchante (Greuze P407) in a letter to his London agent Mawson in 1857. Although he dismissed them as ‘nothing wonderful but pretty’, he was still ready to pay 27,700 francs (about £1,108) for Psyche.
Where to see this painting?
The Wallace Collection
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