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The Art Institute of Chicago

Beauvais Tapestry "Psyche"

Beauvais Tapestry "Psyche"

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From: The Art Institute of Chicago
Limited Edition: 16
Exhibition: Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries
Material: Printed vinyl
Dimensions: 29" x 98" (73cm x

Hanging Hardware Included


An 18th-century French tapestry features a scene from the mythological love story of Cupid and Psyche. Seen on 18 banners from the The Art Institute of Chicago, the tapestry was commissioned by Louis XV and woven by the renowned artisans at the Beauvais Tapestry Manufacture based on a sketch by Francois Boucher. The fine weaving and meticulous detail of the tapestry bring the different finishes and fabrics to life.


Hanging on the wall, this banner seems the perfect medium for the image of an 18th century French tapestry, reflecting the original works feel and display -- a contemporary take on Baroque. The tapestry, created in the 1740s, shows the scene of Psyche’s entrance into Cupid’s palace, and the image was woven based on a cartoon by François Boucher (1703–1770). This was woven at the renowned French tapestry factory, the Manufacture Royale de Beauvais which at the time was under the direction of André Charlemagne Charron.

The tapestry shown was once part of a larger hanging from a series showing the Story of Psyche which was commissioned by Louis XV. The myth goes that Venus, the goddess of love, was envious of Psyche’s beauty. Venus plotted against the young maiden by sending her son Cupid to shoot an arrow and make Psyche fall in love with someone vile and unkind. But upon seeing Psyche’s beauty Cupid fell in love with her himself. She was unknowingly whisked to Cupid’s palace where he visited her only at night to hide his identity. One night out of curiosity, Psyche used a lantern to glimpse Cupid’s face and saw him for the god he was. She was banished, but eventually won back Cupid’s trust and love after wandering the earth performing seemingly impossible tasks set out by the angry Venus. The two were married on Mount Olympus where Psyche was granted immortality.

In this particular scene, the maids and musicians of the palace welcome Psyche’s arrival. The central figure is a musician clad in flowing robes and holding her tambourine aloft. Her languid expression and pale, exposed limbs are detailed in their realism. The fabric of her robe is also masterfully depicted, the wrinkles of the satin and the sheen of the rich velvet are luxurious. All of the elements – the rich rug upon which her ornate gilt chair sits, the pillows and tassels, the flowers behind her, her delicate features and beribboned hair – work together to convey her as a member of Cupid’s divine household.

The image covers the entire front of the banner, all of the colors infused with a cool greenish tone. The other side of the banner is dark blue with white and yellow text that reads, “The Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries/Through January 4/Art Institute of Chicago”.


These banners were displayed around Chicago from November 1, 2008 – January 4, 2009 to promote the exhibition Divine Art: Four Centuries of European Tapestries.

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