Cupid the Honey Thief (1514) by Albrecht Durer

Cupid the Honey Thief - Albrecht Durer - 1514

Artwork Information

TitleCupid the Honey Thief
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationKunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, Austria

About Cupid the Honey Thief

“Cupid the Honey Thief” is a mythological painting by Albrecht Durer, created in 1514. It is executed using pen and ink on paper. The artwork originates from the Northern Renaissance period and is currently housed at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna, Austria.

The artwork depicts a scene where the winged figure of Cupid, identified by his wings and the quiver of arrows on his back, is shown in the act of thievery, attempting to steal honey from a beehive. His actions have disturbed the hive, and a swarm of bees is attacking him as he recoils in surprise and discomfort. To the right, a female figure stands, holding an object that appears to be a tablet, and she seems to admonish Cupid, or perhaps point out the consequence of his actions, emphasizing the moral of the scene. The expression on the woman’s face reveals a composed demeanor, almost educational. At the bottom, discarded to the left, there is what seems to be a whip or similar implement, perhaps alluding to the sting of the bees or the punishment that awaits Cupid for his misadventures.

Durer has skillfully rendered this scene with intricate details, showing his mastery in the use of line work that helps to create texture and emphasize the chaos of the swarming bees versus the calm posture of the female figure. The composition and the moralistic theme are typical of the Northern Renaissance, often characterized by a meticulous attention to detail and didactic content.

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