Culture Magazine

Thursday 3rd December - Cupid and Pysche

By Kirsty Stonell Walker @boccabaciata

 Hello again!  It's gray and miserable here today and the rain is lashing down. The last thing on my mind is swanning around with my boobs out but I suppose would be a different story if I had a boyfriend with a massive pair of wings that could double as an umbrella...

Thursday 3rd December - Cupid and Pysche

Cupid and Psyche (1891) Annie Swynnerton

 So, here we have a couple of nudes, a massive pair of wings and a bit of cheek-kissing action.  I was sticking to proper kissing but this is such a lovely image that I couldn't resist. I wrote a post on Swynnerton back in 2015, when we were all so young and care-free. She's also in Pre-Raphaelite Girl Gang.  Swynnerton exhibited this particular beauty at the Walker Gallery in 1891 where it was much admired. The pair in the painting are slightly awkward, but I remember seeing the painting in Manchester and admiring the really realistic (and somewhat knobbly) feet. I'm not being weird but I rather like it when the figures in the painting have ungainly, lumpy, even ugly hands and feet.  It reminds me that there is a real person there, and also makes me feel better about my syndactyly toes.

Thursday 3rd December - Cupid and Pysche

L'Amour et Psyche (1899) William-Adolphe Bouguereau

 The story of Cupid and Psyche is one of love, beauty and the perils of firearms - Psyche was one of the most beautiful women in the world, so much so that it made Venus very angry indeed as the people began to worship and give offerings to Psyche rather than to her. Venus asked Cupid to shoot Psyche with an arrow so that she would fall in love with something hideous but instead Cupid scratched himself with his arrow and fell in love with Psyche.  I bet that made his mom happy...

In the above images, you might notice that although the love-lorn Cupid is very much concentrating on Psyche, she is looking away and in Swynnerton's image, she has her eyes closed.  This is a visual clue to their odd courtship, where Cupid visited Psyche as her 'unseen lover', a mystical figure in the dark who would show up for a bit of how's-your-father and then vanish.  Venus, being the mother in law from Hell, seems to have then spent an awful lot of time and effort in making Psyche's life a misery until the unlucky lovers finally ascend to an immortal marriage (which apparently makes you grow butterfly wings).

Thursday 3rd December - Cupid and Pysche

Annie Swynnerton at her easel

 I love Swynnerton's painting as it has a real sweetness and innocence.  Although at first sight, Psyche seems to have stretched out her arms in defence, she could be feeling Cupid's feathers and brushing his skin with her fingers.  It's a visual image of another sense, we are seeing a person experience the world through touch.  He is besotted but she is deep in thought.  Psyche falls in love with Cupid, not through magic but because he is made of magic and feathers and she's a woman who appreciates a massive pair of wings.

See you tomorrow...

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