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William Bouguereau (1825-1905)  L'Amour au Papillon [Cupid with a Butterfly]  Oil on canvas, 1888  66 1/8 x 46 inches (168 x 117 cm)  Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross
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Title: Cupid with a Butterfly
Description:
William Bouguereau (1825-1905)
L'Amour au Papillon [Cupid with a Butterfly]
Oil on canvas, 1888
66 1/8 x 46 inches (168 x 117 cm)
Collection of Fred and Sherry Ross

Cupid sits to rest on the edge of a fountain with his arrows laid beside him. He is tenderly and carefully removing a butterfly his arm, symbolizing the tenderness and care needed to keep relationships strong. The flowing water behind him might represent the flow of time and how each moment must be treasured, especially during one’s childhood. Since Cupid is depicted as a child in this work, the painting is also making the statement that Mankind must nurture and take care with the wings of its children with tenderness, just as Cupid takes great care with the wings of this butterfly. Often ridiculed for his paintings of Cupid, Bouguereau's detractors fail to see the celebration of life and humanity which is the focus in so many of his works."


According to Damien Bartoli, Knoedler purchased this work directly the artist June 2, 1888, during a visit to the artist’s studio, even before it was finished and paid 15,000 francs.

This work is truly a celebration of childhood and beauty. Cupid takes great care not to damage the wings of his butterfly. Implicit to the 19th century audience was the quite progressive message for that day and age, that it’s the duty of parents and society to nurture and care for the wings of our children so that they too may fly freely undamaged. It was the artists and writers of the day that carried the liberal message of righting the wrongs of prior eras, and codifying cultural advances like child labor laws and charity and welfare for the poor and downtrodden as seen in so many of the social realists of the day. Bouguereau took the positive side of that goal, and elevated the lowest of the low in society, the gypsies and peasants, to the heavens, painting them both real and ideal at the same time. So too was his similar goals with his mythological works like this cupid who is presented to us as a real but incredibly beautiful child.



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William Bouguereau (1825-1905)  L'Amour et Psyche, enfants [Cupid and Psyche as Children]  Oil on canvas, 1889  47 x 27 7/8 inches (119.5 x 71 cm)  Private collectionWilliam Bouguereau (1825-1905)  L'Amour au Papillon [Cupid with a Butterfly]  Oil on canvas, 1888  66 1/8 x 46 inches (168 x 117 cm)  Collection of Fred and Sherry RossWilliam Bouguereau (1825-1905)  Paquerettes [Daisies]  Oil on canvas, 1894  36 x 22 inches (91.5 x 56 cm)  Private collection
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