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Jacques Louis David delivered an intriuging interpretation of Cupid and Psyche in 1817, as commissioned by Italian patron Count Giovanni Battista Sommariva.
The content of this composition is fairly simple, but it is the style of the figures which makes it so interesting. Cupid looks cheekily at the viewer, proud of his achievement, whilst his lover, Psyche, sleeps. The winged adolescent is clearly younger and more immature than as depicted by most other artists who have taken on this theme. Normally he would be a little older, more of a young man perhaps. He looks angular, not yet grown into man strength, whilst the delightful female figure is classically curved herself. The lay together in bed, whilst a small window offers up a hilly landscape in the background. The artist covers the boy's modesty carefully with a well placed bed sheet, but doesn't offer the same gesture to the sleeping woman. This may have been a personal decision, or alternatively was merely pandering to preferences of wider society at the time.
Cupid and Psyche can be found in the collection of the Museum of Art, Cleveland, US. This large piece is over two metres wide and nearly the same tall. Jacques Louis David completed it in 1817, at a point when he had peaked as an artist. The Battle of Waterloo had only been two years earlier to this and had not only led to the end of Napoleon's rule but also saw David now in exile himself. He relocated to Brussels and carried out this painting there, having originally planned it earlier in the city of Paris. Despite difficulties in his own personal life, this artist was able to continue to work at an impressively high level and his technical reputation was not tarnished in any way at all.
Visitors to the Museum of Art, Cleveland will normally be able to enjoy this extraordinary piece up close, but always check ahead to make sure that it is on display, as pieces may be rotated from time to time or loaned out elsewhere for exhibitions. They have a large display area but it still will struggle to cover such an incredible permanent collection which is also varied across different periods and regions. In terms of paintings, you will also be able to find original works from the likes of Caravaggio, El Greco, Poussin, Rubens, Frederic Edwin Church, Thomas Cole and Corot, to name just a few.