Anna Lea Merritt

Love Locked Out

1890

Medium
Oil paint on canvas
Dimensions
Support: 1156 x 641 mm
frame: 1450 x 930 x 110 mm
Collection
Tate
Acquisition
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1890
Reference
N01578

Display caption

Cupid, the god of love, is shown here trying to force open the door of a mausoleum. Merrit made the picture in memory of her husband, who died  within three months of their marriage. Both Merrit and Cupid face the task of conquering death, which they are bound to fail.

The depiction of the male nude by a female artist was a contentious issue in the late-nineteenth-century art world. Merrit escaped censure by choosing to paint a child, rather than an adult. Children, she believed, were less conscious of nudity and had ‘no sense of shame before artists’.

Gallery label, July 2004

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