'Psyche in the Temple of Love' by Edward John Poynter, 1882
Artist: John Poynter (1836-1919)
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 66.3 x 50.7cm
Accession number: WAG 673
Presented by the Local Committee of the Social Science Congress Meeting in Liverpool in 1882
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.
According Poynter's correspondence, this picture was apparently painted in the summer of 1882 but not completed until November of that year.
The British painter Edward John Poynter was born in Paris in 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.