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Pencil Drawing - Cupid and Psyche - Study of Psyche and Ceres

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Birmingham Museums and Art Gallery

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Basic Information

Accession Number:1927P610
Collection:Fine Art Prints and Drawings
Date:1865 - 1865

Maker Information

Artist:Sir Edward Burne-Jones - View biography for Sir Edward Burne-Jones


One of eleven tracings in Birmingham's collection for 'The Story of Cupid and Psyche' made to accompany the poem in William Morris' 'The Earthly Paradise'.

This study has no completed counterpart in the sketchbook designs for 'Cupid & Psyche', nor was the composition used in any of the completed versions. Vivien Knight has suggested that this may be a study for another story from 'The Earthly Paradise', namely the 'Hill of Venus', the episode called 'The Reapers Appealing to Venus'.

The scene might depict the goddess Ceres appearing to Psyche and giving advice on how to regain the love of Cupid. Psyche is the draped figure at right, holding hands with the nude goddess, her head surrounded by a halo. This may be Ceres rather than Venus for two reasons: Burne-Jones, while depicting Venus nude in these illustrations, usually shows Venus wearing a floral crown, or surrounded by doves, not with a halo; the figures at left are enveloped in long waves of grain, symbolic of Ceres's role as goddess of the harvest. Also, Burne-Jones has depicted both figures on the right with hands intertwined, a gesture that Venus would not use with Psyche in this story, as it suggests a warmth and friendship. The story recounts how Ceres took Psyche into her care for awhile.

Bequeathed by James Richardson Holliday, 1927.

Further Information

Production Period:19th century
Medium:Pencil on tracing paper (for engraving).

Associated People


Height:140 mm
Width:173 mm