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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