Giovanni David (Italian, 17431790)
Etching and aquatint; corrected proof with notations in brown ink in margin; sheet 12 5/8 x 8 15/16 in. (32 x 22.7 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1976 (1976.629)
The mortal princess Psyche was so beautiful that she was worshipped in place of Venus. Cupid, sent by his angry mother to make Psyche fall in love with the vilest man on earth, fell in love with her himself and installed her in his enchanted palace. David depicts the moment when Psyche's lamp reveals that her mysterious lover is Eros himself. Presently, the god of love will be awakened by a drop of oil and flee.
David may have been the first Italian to take up the new medium of aquatint, which allowed him to imitate the subtle tonal effects of a wash drawing.