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This tiny picture has grand themes: the rivalry of the gods and the power and danger of love. Its story comes from the Metamorphoses, by the Roman poet Ovid. Cupid, taking revenge on Apollo for his teasing, struck the god with a golden arrow of love, igniting a fierce desire for Daphne – but struck Daphne with an arrow which caused her to reject him. She fled from him until her father Peneus, the river god, helped her to escape Apollo’s embrace: he transformed her into a laurel tree.
Oil on wood
H 29.5 x W 20 cm
Wynn Ellis Bequest, 1876