'Psyche Blown by Zephyr'

A woman in classical dress reclines on the ground

Early in 1777, in the first flush of his new friendship with the poet William Hayley, Romney embarked on a series of eight cartoons illustrating the story of Cupid and Psyche, from Apuleius's The Golden Ass, which Hayley had proposed translating. Romney's son, who visited his father at this time, recalled that the cartoons were drawn at night, as a form of relaxation from the rigours of portrait painting by day.

Here in the first of the cartoons the beautiful princess Psyche, believing herself to have been betrothed to Death, has thrown herself from a mountain top. Zephyr, the West wind, has rescued her in her fall and blown her gently to rest in the vicinity of Cupid's palace.