Anna Lea Merritt

Love Locked Out


Not on display

Anna Lea Merritt 1844–1930
Oil paint on canvas
Support: 1156 × 641 mm
frame: 1450 × 930 × 110 mm
Presented by the Trustees of the Chantrey Bequest 1890

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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