The Rokeby Venus (c.1644 – 1648) by Diego Velazquez

The Rokeby Venus - Diego Velazquez - c.1644 - 1648

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Rokeby Venus
ArtistDiego Velazquez
Datec.1644 - 1648
Dimensions122.5 x 177 cm
Art MovementBaroque
Current LocationNational Gallery, London, UK

About The Rokeby Venus

“The Rokeby Venus” is a celebrated mythological painting by Diego Velazquez, executed between circa 1644 and 1648. The artwork is an oil on canvas representation within the Baroque movement, measuring 122.5 by 177 centimeters. This significant work forms part of the collection of the National Gallery in London, United Kingdom.

The artwork portrays Venus, the Roman goddess of love and beauty, in a reclining position, viewed from behind. She is depicted lying on a bed, her head turned towards the viewer, and her gaze directed at her reflection in a mirror held by her son, Cupid. Venus’s pose is serene and relaxed, her body rendered with soft contours that exemplify the skillful play of light and shadow characteristic of Velazquez’s technique. The use of a mirror to display her face adds a layer of complexity to the composition, inviting viewers to contemplate notions of beauty and vanity.

Cupid, the mischievous god of desire, is presented as a chubby child with wings, performing an intimate act for his mother by holding the mirror. The presence of Cupid underscores the painting’s theme of love and beauty, anchoring the mythological context of the figure of Venus.

The background of the artwork is draped in rich, dark colors, juxtaposed against the lighter tones of Venus’s skin, which exudes a luminous quality. This stark contrast heightens the sensual curves and the softness of her flesh, drawing attention to the central figure. A draped red curtain adds a dramatic touch and depth to the scene, enhancing the overall composition with its lush folds and vibrant hue.

Overall, “The Rokeby Venus” is a masterful example of Baroque art, showcasing Velazquez’s exceptional ability to capture human form and emotion, as well as his understanding of classical mythology. The artwork remains an iconic reflection of the opulence and dynamism that typify the Baroque era.

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