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Edward Burne-Jones, 1833–1898

Cupid and Psyche

Additional Title(s):

Cupid Finding Psyche Asleep

ca. 1870
Materials & Techniques:
Watercolor, gouache and pastel on moderately thick, moderately textured, wove paper mounted on linen
Sheet: 27 5/8 x 19 inches (70.2 x 48.3 cm), Frame: 37 x 27 1/2 x 3 inches (94 x 69.9 x 7.6 cm)

Inscribed on printed label signed by Jones, on back: "This picture being painted in WATERCOLOUR would be injured by the slightest moisture. Great Care must be used whenever it is removed from the Frame. Edward Burne-Jones"; in graphite, upper left: "149"

signed in gold paint, lower left: "EBJ"; not dated

Credit Line:
Yale Center for British Art, Yale Art Gallery Collection, Mary Gertrude Abbey Fund
Copyright Status:
Public Domain
Accession Number:
Drawings & Watercolors
Prints and Drawings
Subject Terms:
angel | arrows | bows | city | fountains | fruit | gargoyle | gazing | gesturing | landscape | lion | love | man | mythology | nude | pools | reclining | religious and mythological subject | roses (plant) | sleeping | togas | wings | woman
Associated People:
Accessible by appointment in the Study Room [Request]
Note: The Study Room is open by appointment. Please visit the Study Room page on our website for more details.
IIIF Manifest:

Edward Burne-Jones explored the story of Psyche and Cupid seventy times over the course of thirty years, starting from 1864, when his friend and collaborator William Morris, a founding leader of the Arts and Crafts Movement, began work on a collection of verses titled Earthly Paradise. This drawing was designed to illustrate Morris’s first poem in the second volume, “The Story of Cupid and Psyche.” Morris recounts the lengthy love story between Cupid, the winged son of Venus, and Psyche, a mortal woman. Jealous of her beauty, Venus dispatched Cupid to make Psyche fall in love with someone ugly, but instead Cupid fell in love with her himself. Here, Burne-Jones represents the moment Cupid first encounters the sleeping Psyche and looks upon a vulnerable woman with an unrequited gaze, as described in Morris’s poem: “long he stood above her hidden eyes / With red lips parted in god’s surprise.”

Gallery label for installation of YCBA collection, 2016

Unto This Last (Watts Gallery) (Watts Gallery Trust, 2020-03-10 - 2020-11-01) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition]

Unto this Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin (Yale Center for British Art, 2019-09-05 - 2019-12-08) [YCBA Objects in the Exhibition] [Exhibition Description]

Timothy J. Barringer, Unto this last : two hundred years of John Ruskin, Yale University Press, New Haven, CT, p. 277, cat. 73, NJ18.R895 .B37 2019 (LC) Oversize (YCBA) [YCBA]

Susan P. Casteras, The substance or the shadow : images of Victorian womanhood, , Yale Center for British Art, New Haven, 1982, pp. 64-5, no. 16, N7630 C27 + (YCBA) [YCBA]

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