Below is William Bougureau's The Rapture of Psyche. By a quick glance you get a taste of the beauty and poignancy of the moment, but to really get the most from it, I recommend you "read" the scene. I've included my "reading" below. Enjoy!
Before you read below, I suggest you do your own "reading". You'll get much more out of mine if you give it a try first. Here are some question to guide you:
- What kind of place is he taking her to? Where is he taking her from?
- What are the physical sensations they're experiencing?
- Put yourself in the place of the young woman or young man--when have you felt like them?
A young couple embraces. But the man, the young boyish-looking man is turned away from the girl, and she doesn’t look at him—she has her eyes closed. He’s looking away to where they are going, to where he is taking her. His arms surround her torso and his hands firmly hold her close to his side.
They are flying upwards, and off to the side—not straight up, as if he’s an angel taking her to heaven, but someplace nearer, like a higher peak, brighter, more beautiful and more lit up than where they came from. And looking down at where they came from I see dark clouds covering jagged, barren cliffs (like the cliffs of the land of Mordor from Lord of the Rings).
They’re moving away from that treacherous landscape and heading towards the light of the sun—its warm glow brightens the couple’s faces and shimmers on the edge of his wings.
His wings are rising, and I can imagine them swooping up and down in flying motion. His right knee is lifted, helping to propel him aloft (and even the toes on his left foot are curled in the effort of boosting him upward). He looks up, looks up to where they are going, with direct, confident eyes, and an effortlessly firm grip on the woman he loves.
While he holds her securely against his curved figure, the young woman abandons herself to his embrace. Her left shoulder is curled in while she turns her neck and leans her head back into the nook of his shoulder. Her eyes are closed. She isn’t looking at him and enjoying him, her focus is turned inwards into what she is feeling now. Her mouth is parted in exultant delight, and her hands are pressed to her chest like she’s reacting to the ache of joy at the base of her throat.
The wind blows past her face, sending her hair flaming downward and her purple drapery billowing around her, but she lies still, curled against his protective body, feeling the sensation of being lifted, of flying upward (like I’ve felt in dreams where I could fly, or when I’ve been on a skyscraper’s elevator propelling me up dozens of floors in a matter of seconds). And she has no fear of the heights they’re reaching—she’s feeling the thrill of being safe in his arms, in the arms of the man she loves.
What kind of moment is being depicted?
From the woman's perspective: A moment of being in a lover’s arms and feeling the security and happiness of being led away to a wonderful place.
From the man's perspective: Confidently leading the person you love to that beautiful place knowing that the person in your arms so blissfully trusts you.
When have you felt like either the woman or the man?
A scene from the end of the movie Tron: Legacy made me think of this painting. (Which still image from the clip do you think best matches the scene in the painting? I say, at 1:05. My buddy, David, on the other hand, says 0:58...)