Royal Collection Trust/© Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II 2013
The Marriage of Cupid and Psyche
This roundel is inspired by a famous print of 1587 (Bartsch 277), engraved by Hendrick Goltzius (1558-1617) after a drawing by Bartholomeus Spranger (1546-1611). In this early work Bloemart has captured the swirling confusion of his source, with figures apparently shown in every possible posture and from every possible angle. This display of complex draughtsmanship, the elongated proportions of the anatomies and the way in which the design matches the circular format are all characteristics of Mannerism.
The story of Cupid and Psyche is told in the 'Golden Ass' of Apuleius. Here the marriage of the two lovers is celebrated by a feast of the gods, where each behaves according to his or her character: Mars embraces Venus, pulling her away from her husband, Vulcan; Mercury pours and Bacchus drinks wine; Hebe serves; Apollo plays the lyre and Fame blows her trumpet. Jupiter and Juno converse in the background; the identity of the dark and shaggy god in the foreground is uncertain.