OIL PAINTING: Cupid and Psyche, 1867
This painting developed during the time Legros was working with his pupil George Howard, an aristocratic amateur artist and important patron of the Aesthetic movement who himself produced a presentation drawing titled Cupid and Psyche in 1869. In a diary entry for 14 July 1867, Rosalind Howard recorded her husband and Legros drawing together from the model and specifically mentioned an oil painting in which a Miss Wells figured as a wood nymph. This evidence, taken together with a recent technical report, would suggest that Legros started the work as a life-study and gradually transformed it into an imaginative mythological subject. Infra-red investigation has revealed detailed drawing for the head and hands of the female nude and also shows that few modifications were made to her, implying that the figure was painted directly onto the light ground, whereas the drapery, landscape and additional figure of Cupid all underwent considerable alteration, many adjustments being visible to the naked eye. The existence of a life-drawing of a similar date entitled Reclining Venus would further suggest that Legros envisaged his model as a Venus, reminiscent of Giorgione's Sleeping Venus(C.1510) and Titian's Venus of Urbino (1538), before he added the Cupid figure and turned the nude into Psyche.