Skip to Main Content

Cupid as Link Boy

Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Public Domain

Image downloads are for educational use only. For all other purposes, please see our Obtaining and Using Images page.

Joshua Reynolds

British, 1723-1792

Cupid as Link Boy, 1774

oil on canvas

support: 30 x 25 inches (76.2 x 63.5 cm); framed: 40 x 35 x 3 1/2 inches (101.6 x 88.9 x 8.89 cm)

Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York

Seymour H. Knox Fund, through special gifts to the fund by Mrs. Marjorie Knox Campbell, Mrs. Dorothy Knox Rogers and Mr. Seymour H. Knox, Jr., 1945

1945:2.2

More Details

Inscriptions

no inscriptions

Provenance

the artist;
sold to John Frederick Sackville, Third Duke of Dorset, 1774;
Duchess of Dorset, by 1817;
Earl of De La Warr, by 1840;
Lord Sackville of Knole;
sold to Thomas Agnew and Sons, 1894;
Alexander Henderson, by 1896;
collection of J. Pierpont Morgan (1837-1913), New York, soon after 1896;
M. Knoedler & Co., New York, soon after 1896;
sold to the Albright Art Gallery, May 28, 1945

Class

Paintings

Work Type

Oil painting

This information may change due to ongoing research. Glossary of Terms

Joshua Reynolds’s portrait transforms a sight common to the streets of eighteenth-century London—a child worker lighting torches—into an allegory. “Link boys,” as they were known, were paid a small sum to light fires along London’s streets so that inhabitants could see the way from their doors to their carriages. These youngsters traveled through the city at nightfall and could become victims of abuse. The lack of social status of working-class women and children at the time made them particularly vulnerable to mistreatment in the modernizing city. Rather than romanticizing one of the city’s many street urchins, Reynolds allegorizes the plight of these children, puckish Cupids with wings blackened by their often tragic experience of exploitation— sexual as well as socioeconomic.

Label from Overtime: The Art of Work, March 8–May 17, 2015

Back to Top