“Love Locked Out” by Anna Lea Merritt is the artist’s best-known work, and in memory of her late husband, who died in 1877, just three months after their wedding.
Cupid, the mythology god of love, is shown here trying to force open the door of a mausoleum. Merritt feared the subject of her painting would be misinterpreted. She wrote in her memoir:
“I feared people liked it as a symbol of forbidden love, while my Love was waiting for the door of death to open and the reunion of the lonely pair.”
The depiction of the male nude by a female artist was controversial in late nineteenth-century London.
Merrit received favorable reviews by choosing to paint a child and not an adult. Children, she believed, were less conscious of nudity.
Anna Massey Lea Merritt painted portraits, landscapes, and religious scenes and etchings. She was born in Philadelphia but lived and worked in England for most of her life.
Merritt worked as a professional artist for most of her adult life. Merritt had intended to end her professional career as a painter after her wedding, but she returned to painting after her husband’s death.
“Love Locked Out” became the first painting by a woman artist acquired for the British National Collection.
Love Locked Out
- Title: Love Locked Out
- Artist: Anna Lea Merritt
- Year: 1890
- Medium: Oil on canvas
- Dimensions: 145 cm × 930 cm (57 in × 370 in)
- Museum: Tate Britain
Anna Lea Merritt
- Name: Anna Lea Merritt (Born: Anna Massey Lea)
- Born: 1844 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
- Died: 1930 (aged 85) – Dorset, England
- Nationality: American
- Notable Works
Anna Lea Merritt (1844–1930)
A Tour of Tate Britain
- “Christ in the House of His Parents” by John Everett Millais
- “Ophelia” by John Everett Millais
- “The Lady of Shalott” by John William Waterhouse
- “Youth on the Prow, and Pleasure at the Helm” by William Etty
- “Claude Monet Painting by the Edge of a Wood” by John Singer Sargent
- “Love Locked Out” by Anna Lea Merritt
- “King Cophetua and the Beggar Maid” by Edward Burne-Jones
- “Snow Storm: Steam-Boat off a Harbour’s Mouth” by J. M. W. Turner
- “Snow Storm: Hannibal and his Army Crossing the Alps” by J. M. W. Turner
- “The Gallery of HMS Calcutta (Portsmouth)” by James Tissot
- “Portsmouth Dockyard” by James Tissot
- “Self-Portrait” by J. M. W. Turner
- “Portrait of Almina Daughter of Asher Wertheimer” by John Singer Sargent
- Past and Present by Augustus Egg
Anna Massey Lea Merritt
“To succeed, jump as quickly at opportunities as you do at conclusions.”
– Benjamin Franklin
Photo Credit: John Singer Sargent [CC0], via Wikimedia Commons