Divine, Maria, and Raffaella, Cupid and Psyche, 2012

Divine, Maria, and Raffaella, Sir Joshua Reynolds, Cupid and Psyche, c. 1789

Inspired by Sir Joshua Reynolds, Cupid and Psyche, c. 1789.

We liked the mythical aspect and the story of Cupid and Psyche by Reynolds. We also liked the contrast in the lighting, the obscurity and how Cupid looked innocent and pale.

We focused on the story behind the painting, where Psyche is about to discover the true identity of Cupid. In the painting, we see Psyche holding a candle and looking at Cupid, asleep. Psyche is trying to find out his true identity. A drop of wax from the candle, is about to fall on Cupid and wake him up. We know from the story that Cupid will then flee.

Reynolds uses a lot of lighting which focuses on the subject, in a similar way to Caravaggio who Reynolds admired. We created one image made up of 6 photographs. Each photograph evokes one of the themes from the Cupid and Psyche myth using abstract colours. In all the photographs, Psyche is represented through the colour orange/yellow. The first theme and photograph is jealousy between Venus and Psyche. The second theme is love between Cupid and Psyche. The third one is deception, where Psyche is scared about Cupid. The fourth theme is revelation, where Psyche peeks at Cupid in the night, with the light from the candle glowing in the centre. The fifth theme is about trials and separation, where Cupid flies away. The sixth and final photograph represents the happy ending in the story, where Cupid and Psyche are reunited and the colours mix. The images are also themed around the idea of coupling, where two characters and colours are intertwined.

To produce these photographs, we experimented with lighting using the light painting technique. This involves creating contrasts between two shades of light, using different colour gel papers and cutting card board circles, which we put on top of the camera lens in a pinhole style. We used the gel colours to match the original colours in the paintings. We then went round the building and took photographs. The final photographs are abstract, with circles of colour representing an abstract illustration of the myth of Cupid and Psyche. We were also influenced by Mark Rothko’s style.

Inspired by:

Joshua Reynolds, Cupid and Psyche, c.1789

Joshua Reynolds, Cupid and Psyche, c.1789

This late work by Sir Joshua Reynolds shows the mortal Psyche discovering the identity of her sleeping lover, the god Cupid. Reynolds uses the subject to explore nocturnal lighting effects. The light and shadows appear more dramatic after recent conservation work which removed many layers of discoloured varnish. This work was first shown at Somerset House, now home to The Courtauld Gallery, in 1789.