The story of the nymph Psyche originates in a tale written by the Roman poet Lucius Apuleius in the 2nd century A.D. The beautiful Psyche was united with Cupid, Venus's son. The word 'psyche' signifies the soul and the nymph is generally shown in classical sculpture with the wings of a butterfly to suggest the soul's lightness. Leighton based the pose of Psyche on an ancient statue of 'Venus Leaving the Bath'. He depicts a moment in which the viewer's eye is caught in the same way as Cupid's was. Her thin, wing-like drapery hints at Psyche as the personification of the soul. Leighton often painted classical subject matter.
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