Anna Lea Merritt

Love Locked Out

1890

In Tate Britain

Artist
Anna Lea Merritt 1844–1930
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

This picture shows young Cupid, the god of desire, pressed against the door of a tomb. It was painted as a memorial to the artist’s husband, who died just two months after they married. The thorny rose around the door frame represents the pain and persistence of love. Cupid has abandoned the world, his arrow and extinguished lamp lie on the ground with the autumn leaves. He is waiting, in the artist’s words, ‘for the door of death to open and the reunion of the lonely pair’. Merritt was a successful professional painter of a variety of subjects, including nudes. Some considered nudes unsuitable for women artists at the time. Love Locked Out proved popular when exhibited in 1890 and was bought for the nation.

Gallery label, August 2019

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