Sappho and Phaon, 1809, by Jacques-Louis David
In the painting we see the Ancient Greek poetess Sappho and her beloved, Phaon. Cupid, who holds out to Sappho a lyre (emblem of music and poetry), symbolizes the idea of love as a source of creative inspiration. On Sappho’s knees is a scroll with a Greek inscription, the first lines of her First Ode: dedicated to Phaon. The historically convincing depiction of Classical attire, shoes and details in the interior is combined with a sentimental, lyrical interpretation of loving harmony, revealed in the languid voluptuousness of the poses, and even such traditional metaphors for love as the pair of kissing doves and the two trees in the landscape.