I wanted to do this post for months. Most people know by now that the plot for Painted Blind came from Greek mythology. The myth of Cupid & Psyche is not as well-known as other myths, but it is widely represented in art. Some of these works are absolutely beautiful. Others… well, not so much. Today I want to share some of my favorites, and (hint, hint) educate anyone who might want to win some prizes in our little facebook party tomorrow.
Before we get to Cupid & Psyche, let’s begin with Venus. The Birth of Venus, that is.
Psyche Middleton in the novel gets into trouble after posing for a look-alike of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. I was presenting at a high school and read aloud the scene where Psyche sees herself in that photo. I looked up and realized there wasn’t a kid in the room who knew what the painting looked like. I now have a poster print of it. (Thanks, Costco!)
Of the artwork depicting Cupid and Psyche, some show scenes from the story while others depict the characters in whatever setting the artist chose. Since Psyche was supposed to be the most beautiful of mortals, there are paintings of Psyche bathing, Psyche being waited on, Psyche doing various things which aren’t really a part of the myth. I prefer the ones that depict scenes from the myth:
Did I mention that most of the paintings of Cupid & Psyche are nudes? One would think he’d go on a errand of revenge fully clothed, but he was invisible, so maybe he didn’t need clothes.
Several of the paintings show Psyche with wings, too. I found that interesting. Often they look like butterfly or fairy wings compared to Cupid’s more bird-like wings. This is one of my favorites. The artist is unknown, but it was painted between 1840-1859. It is entitled Psyche in the Underworld.
This depiction is by John Williams Waterhouse (c 1903).
There is no beauty inside that box, only the sleep of the dead. Psyche falls down dead, but Cupid comes to her rescue.
This is my favorite of all the artwork of Cupid & Psyche…
Now, for some of my less favorite representations of Cupid & Psyche.
This is also a Bouguereau, but he portrays both them as children, which I think is strange. Psyche is a marriageable young woman in the myth.
However, I like the Bouguereau representation better than others, which portray Psyche as a young woman and Cupid as a child.
Guillaume Seignac’s painting above (late 19th century) is beautiful, but it’s creepy to have a young woman romantically involved with a child who looks about four, a fact that gets creepier when the artist depicts them nude…
Psyche & Cupid by Joseph Berger (1820-1860?). Totally understand Venus’s objection to THAT marriage.
But the award for strangest representation of Cupid & Psyche goes to Karoly Brocky (c. 1850).
This one gets my vote for most bizarre. It incorporates all the cringe-worthy elements– young woman, male child, nude, this time in bed– but adds an aerial backflip for good measure.
I know, it’s fine art, and I shouldn’t make fun, but seriously… you snorted, didn’t you? Yeah, I thought so. Me, too.