This little brooch is from the 1930s. It is not a valuable brooch, it is made of ‘white metal’, the term given to items not made of silver and decorated with enamel and marcasites. The enamel is not of particular quality. I think it is probably British, but it has no markings so I can’t be sure. During the 1930s there was a rise in relatively cheap costume jewellery, adding a bit of ‘bling’ or colour was a simple way to brighten up an outfit.
Cupid has long been associated with Valentine’s Day, in classical mythology he is the god of desire, erotic love, attraction and affection. In Latin Cupīdō means passionate desire, sometimes he is known as Amor meaning love. During the Hellenistic period (323BC to 31BC) he began to be portrayed as a chubby boy with a bow and arrow, representing his power, a person shot by one of his arrows would be filled with uncontrollable desire. Sometimes cupid is depicted with arrows, a torch and blindfolded. Which is where the saying ‘love is blind’ comes from. In Shakespeare’s ‘Midsummer Night’s Dream’ (1590s)
Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind
And therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.
Nor hath love’s mind of any judgement taste;
Wings and no eyes figure unheedy haste.
And therefore is love said to be a child
Because in choice he is so oft beguiled.
It is said Cupid carries two kinds of arrows, one with a sharp golden point and one with a blunt lead tip. A person struck by the golden arrow will be filled with uncontrollable desire, but the one struck by the lead arrow feels no such desire. In Ovid’s ‘Metamorphoses’ Apollo taunts Cupid, so Cupid shoots him with a golden arrow but shoots Daphne with the lead one. So, for evermore Apollo loves Daphne but she rejects him.
Marble sculpture of Apollo and Daphne (1622 to 1625) by Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini, now in the Galleria Borghese in Rome. It depicts the climax of the story of Apollo and Daphne in Ovid’s Metamorphoses
In the 15th century poem, ‘The Kingis Quair’ by King James I of Scotland, Cupid has three arrows: gold, for a gentle “smiting”, silver for a more ardent love and steel, for a love-wound that will never heal.
In my little brooch Cupid is sitting on his arrow with perhaps his torch in his hand, represented by three marcasites.
Over the centuries there have been countless depictions of Cupid, from
Jean-Jacques-François Le Barbier’s Cupid in a Tree (1795 to 1805) now in the Museum of Fine Arts Houston
to Valentine’s cards
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone