Venus and Cupid (Lotto)

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Venus and Cupid
1525 Lotto Venus und Amor anagoria.JPG
ArtistLorenzo Lotto
Mediumoil paint
Dimensions92.4 cm × 111.4 cm (36.4 in × 43.9 in)
LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art
WebsiteMetropolitan Museum of Art

Venus and Cupid is a painting by Lorenzo Lotto in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art. It probably dates to the mid-1520s, but has been dated as late as the 1540s.[1]

It is a wedding gift for a couple of Bergamo or Venice. Such paintings were inspired by the classical tradition of wedding poetry.[1]


Venus, lying on the ground and leaning on an elbow on a blue cloth, is accompanied by her son Cupid standing with his bow and quiver. He urinates on the bride through a crown of laurels of myrtle which she holds by a ribbon and below which is suspended a burning incense burner. This urine stream is symbolic act, the meaning of which is to bring fertility,[2] and which would have seemed humorous to contemporary viewers.[1]

There is on a background of red hanging tied to a tree on which climbs ivy. Around them are scattered allegorical objects of marriage (garland of myrtle), femininity (rose, seashell, rose petals), eternal love (ivy). The headdress of Venus, with the tiara, the veil and the earring, is typical of the Venetian brides of the sixteenth century. The pendant earring with a pearl is a symbol of purity. The gesture of Cupid that urinates through the crown on the belly of Venus is an erotic allusion to fertility.[1]

The painting is Lotto's typically individual contribution to the emerging Venetian tradition of the recling nude, begun by the Dresden Venus by Giorgione and Titian. The goddess shows no discomfort with her nakedness and looks at the spectator in the eye. In front of her are a stick and a snake. The goddess seems to bless the marrying couple, wishing them fertility, and preserving them from hidden dangers like the serpent.


This painting is not recorded until an image of it was published in the Directory of paintings of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance by Salomon Reinach in 1918, as being with a French dealer in 1912.[3] In 1986 it was acquired by the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Before the purchase, the painting was cleaned at the Metropolitan, notably cleared of its repainting (at the level of the headdress of Venus, draped on her right thigh and bouquet held by Cupid).[1]


  1. ^ a b c d e "Lorenzo Lotto | Venus and Cupid | The Met". The Metropolitan Museum of Art, i.e. The Met Museum. Retrieved 2017-06-26.
  2. ^ Jacques Bonnet, Lorenzo Lotto, Adam Biro, 1996, p. 40
  3. ^ "Repertoire de peintures du Moyen Âge et la Renaissance (1280-1580)". Retrieved 2017-06-26.


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