Henry Elliott Johnston, Jr. as "Cupid Stringing His Bow"

  • William Henry Rinehart, Henry Elliott Johnston, Jr. as "Cupid Stringing His Bow", 1874, marble, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Bequest of Harriet Lane Johnston, 1906.9.16

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In 1872, William Henry Rinehart visited Baltimore, where the Johnston family commissioned him to create four portraits, including marble busts of Henry Elliott Johnston and his wife, Harriet Lane Johnston, and full-length sculptures of their two children posing as Cupid. The statues of Henry Jr., age two, and James, age five, are identical except for the faces, and Rinehart only needed to make clay models of the boys’ heads before returning to his studio in Rome. This allowed him more time to sculpt the boys’ bodies from live models in his studio. Here, the young Henry appears unaware of his surroundings as he concentrates on stringing his bow. This creates a natural, unself-conscious sculpture that contrasts with the sentimental images of Cupid popular in Victorian society.

Henry Elliott Johnston, Jr. as "Cupid Stringing His Bow"
42 1/2 x 15 1/4 x 13 3/8 in. (108.0 x 38.7 x 34.0 cm.)
Credit Line

Smithsonian American Art Museum

Bequest of Harriet Lane Johnston

Mediums Description
  • Figure male – full length
  • Portrait male – Johnston, Henry Elliott, Jr. – child
  • Mythology – classical – Cupid
  • Figure male – nude
Object Number
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