Sir Anthony Van Dyck (1599-1641)
Cupid and Psyche
Oil on canvas
200.2 x 192.6 cm
Painted for Charles I
This is the only surviving mythological painting from Van Dyck's employment as Charles I's court artist. It may be one of a series of canvases illustrating the story of Cupid and Psyche ordered for the Queens House at Greenwich. In classical mythology, Venus set Psyche a number of tasks, the last of which was to bring her a small portion of Proserpines beauty from Hades in an unopened casket. Psyche, overcome by curiosity, opened it and released not beauty, but sleep, from which she is roused by Cupid.