Society’s fascination with personifying love and its many forms has captured the imagination of artists through the ages. From the mature and sensual to the pure and innocent, artists have tried to depict the full spectrum of emotions that defines love and where better to look for inspiration than the legends of antiquity. So why have myths of Eros and Psyche and their many iterations been such popular subject matter through history?
Lladro’s Straight to the Heart white matt figurine with pastel detailing.
Perhaps its the appeal of a whirlwind romance or a love that defies all the odds, or maybe its the naïve and almost childlike aspects of pure love which sparks the imagination. Whatever the case, the idea of capturing the many facets of love in a visual medium has continued to engage both artists and audiences throughout history. Representations of Cupid has are a common and popular subject matter, it could be said that he is a depiction of the playful and sincere form that love can take. See in the Straight to the Heart figurine, Cupid is portrayed as an infant and all the connotations that entails. Children are innocent, children are playful as is the love that they give. Furthermore, have you ever wondered where the saying “love is blind” comes from? Notice the blindfold over Cupid’s left eye, further emphasising Cupid’s trusting nature. This is a direct influence from the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche later adopted and re contextualised by the Romans into what we now identify as Cupid and further popularisation during the Renaissance.
Notice the handcrafted flowers on Lladro’s Eros and Psyche Angels Figurine.
It could be argued that trust is one of if the most important aspects of love be it platonic, romantic or familial. One of the most identifiable themes of the Eros and Psyche myth is the emphasis on trust in relationships. As in the myth, Psyche must learn to love Eros blindly as she can only be with him at night with all the lights off and by the end of the story Eros has been blinded and must learn to trust Psyche again and literally love her blindly. As can be seen in the Eros and Psyche figurine, Eros is leaning heavily on Psyche, holding her face in order to kiss her. The piece conveys a strong sense of intimacy and reliance on each other from one character to the next. In a lot of classical art stemming from the Greek mythology, Eros is usually represented as a young adult indicating the more erotic and mature sides of love and desire. The fact that Eros and Psyche are depicted as infants in this figurine highlights the purer and more innocent aspects of love that the artist is trying to convey.
Lladro’s Cupid Figurine with gold lustre armband and bow.
With such as multifaceted emotion as love, it is easy to understand what has made it such a prominent subject matter for artist, particularly given the depth that can be achieved through visual mediums like ceramics. Love and all the emotions and struggles that accompany it never stops being a poignant and relatable topic for artists and audiences to explore.