Love Locked Out

Love Locked Out, 1889 (copy of Anna Lea Merritt)
Henry Justice Ford (1860-1941)
Oil on canvas
BORGM 00033
Image © Russell-Cotes Art Gallery and Museum

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Love Locked Out (copy of Anna Lea Merritt)

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’. Anna Lea Merritt was a successful professional painter of a variety of subjects, including nudes. Some considered nudes unsuitable for women artists at the time. The painting was first exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1890 and became the first painting by a woman artist to be acquired for the British national collection through the Chantrey Bequest. The original artwork hangs today in Tate Britain, London.

Henry Justice Ford was a prolific and successful English artist and illustrator, active from 1886 through to the late 1920s. Ford came to public attention when he provided the numerous beautiful illustrations for Andrew Lang’s Fairy Books, which captured the imagination of a generation of British children and were sold worldwide in the 1880s and 1890s.

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