Kaohsiung Museum of Fine Arts (Kaohsiung, Taiwan): Nude: art from the Tate collection
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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