Art History at a Glance
The Cupid Seller is a delightfully charming painting by French artist Joseph-Marie Vien. It features a trio of female figures conducting an intriguing business transaction. The woman on the left side of the work holds a basket of tiny Cupids, and offers one wriggling specimen to a seated lady. This languid lady, with her classical features and garments, gazes wistfully at the diminutive Cupid. And since we know that Cupid was the ancient Roman god of love and desire, we can guess that these Cupids are meant to inspire love as well. It is also interesting to note that Joseph-Marie Vien was himself inspired by an engraving of a Roman wall painting, and he based his design for The Cupid Seller on this work of art.
For More Information
An article about Cupid in Classical mythology is available at Mythography.
This beautiful book (which is a part of the Phaidon Art & Ideas series) features information about the Neoclassical style. Author David Irwin has some fascinating chapters, including "The Lure of Italy and Beyond: The Grand Tour", "From Achilles to Wolfe: The Painting of History", and the brilliantly named "Eating your Ice under a Grecian Group: Living with Neoclassicism".