Venus and Cupid (c. 1530) by Lucas Cranach the Elder

Venus and Cupid - Lucas Cranach the Elder - 1509

Artwork Information

TitleVenus and Cupid
ArtistLucas Cranach the Elder
MediumOil on Canvas
Dimensions213 x 102 cm
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationHermitage Museum, Saint Petersburg, Russia
Location Created Germany

About Venus and Cupid

The artwork entitled “Venus and Cupid” is a masterful creation by the German artist Lucas Cranach the Elder, painted in the year 1509. Exhibiting the oil on canvas medium, this piece measures 213 by 102 centimeters and is currently housed at the Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia, reflecting its mythological painting genre. As a notable work from the Northern Renaissance movement, the piece originates from Germany and is part of a series that explores themes involving Venus and Cupid.

The artwork presents a richly detailed portrayal of Venus, the Roman goddess of love, standing nude save for a sheer, delicate veil and a necklace of pearls. Her body is depicted with the idiosyncratic slender and elongated proportions characteristic of the time, and her gaze is turned slightly away from the viewer, offering a subtle, introspective quality to the composition. By her side, Cupid, the god of desire and affection, appears as a young, cherubic figure, grasping his bow with attention directed towards his mother. The figures are placed against a dark, nondescript background which serves to highlight their forms and the careful application of light and shadow upon their skin.

Adding to the complexity of the piece are inscriptions which hover in the dark space above the figures, adding a layer of textual intrigue to the visual narrative. Below their feet, a selection of flora adds a touch of natural beauty and may allude to the fertile aspect of Venus’s domain. The interplay of the divine subjects and detailed execution encapsulates the humanistic interests of the Renaissance, as well as the particular stylistic tendencies of Northern European artistry of the time.

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