The National Museum of Art of Romania
Cranach - Venus and Cupid
Artwork description
Lucas Cranach the Elder
(Kronach, 1472 - Weimar, 1553) 
German school
Oil on wood
104 x 57 cm
Inv. 8107/141
Artwork location
European Art Gallery, 1st floor, room 4

Lucas Cranach the Elder painted at least fifteen versions of the theme, each of them slightly different from the other. The Bucharest painting is signed and dated 1520, being one of the earlier versions. Peaceful and perfectly balanced in her posture, Venus seems to discreetly argue that the relationship between Christian virtue and wordly love needs not neccesarily be a tensioned or guilty one. Or else why would the goddess of love wear a cross around her neck?

Venus stands in front of us in an elegant contraposto, her right leg perpendicular onto her left leg, a posture typical of so many of Cranach’s female characters. She wears nothing but a thin, transparent, almost invisible veil which descends from the top of her head to her hips. In the late 18th or early 19th century the painting’s owner must have considered her nudity offensive so he had her covered in a dark blue veil. The latter was removed during restoration in the late 1990s, leaving Venus no more provocative than Eve before her banishment from Paradise.

The winged Cupid stands to the left of Venus, supporting the bow with his right arm and foot. He mischeviously hides the arrow of love from his mother’s sight, but not from ours, thus making us wander: will he use it onto Venus or not?

 

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