The painting The Abduction of Psyche (which is also known by the French title Le ravissement de Psych�) is one of artist William Bouguereau's most recognizable and famous works. The Abduction of Psyche was inspired by an episode from Classical mythology, and Bouguereau was certainly not the first to be fascinated by the legend. Indeed, the tale of Psyche and Cupid (or Eros, if you prefer the Greek name for Cupid) has appealed to many painters and poets over the centuries. But the way in which the artist has depicted his version of the myth is what makes this particular image so memorable.
In this painting, the beautiful woman Psyche is being carried by her immortal lover Cupid. Bouguereau biographer Fronia E. Wissman writes poetically of this piece: "...she [Psyche] is literally being transported by love." And this, in essence, is what the image represents. Psyche seems lost in a blissful reverie. She is being embraced by the handsome god of love, who, with his elegant wings and idealized features, seems custom made to drive young women into a frenzy of admiration and desire. The two figures almost seem as one in this work, and together their bodies form a lyrical arrangement. Floating draperies - delicate lilac for Psyche and muted blue-grey for Cupid - complete the composition and give the painting a subtle but sophisticated diagonal emphasis.
It is also worth noting that the composition of The Abduction of Psyche is similar to one of Bouguereau's much earlier works, his beautifully decorative painting The Dance (which is in the collection of the Muse� d'Orsay).
More information about the roles that Psyche and Cupid played in mythology can be found at Mythography.
In her book about Nineteenth century painter Adolphe-William Bouguereau, Fronia E. Wissman introduces readers to one of France's legendary masters. Using a combination of lively, engaging text, insightful commentary about the artist's works, and splendid color images, the author reveals how Bouguereau's glorious paintings contributed to the history of art. There is an intriguing description of The Abduction of Psyche in this book, and it is complemented by a dazzling color image of the painting.
The Art Book
This book is sure to enhance any art lover's library. Color images grace the pages, and every picture is accompanied by a concise description of each featured work and artist.