Venus entrusting Cupid to Time

Artist: Giovanni Domenico Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1727–1804 Venice)

Artist: After Giovanni Battista Tiepolo (Italian, Venice 1696–1770 Madrid)

Date: after 1758

Medium: Etching

Dimensions: Plate: 17 13/16 × 11 7/8 in. (45.2 × 30.1 cm)
Sheet: 18 7/16 x 12 1/16 in. (46.8 x 30.6 cm)

Classification: Prints

Credit Line: The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1957

Accession Number: 57.619.5


This composition celebrates the birth of a child, whom Venus consigns to Saturn in his role as Father Time. The Graces sprinkle roses, and the doves that draw Venus' chariot kiss overhead. The child was once identified as Cupid, yet his lack of wings and the presence beneath him of a winged infant with a quiver play down that interpretation. On the other hand, the winged child may be delivering the sheaf of arrows—which seems too heavy for him—to the newborn. Other suggestions for the baby's identity are Venus' son Aeneas—an appropriate subject if the room contained stories from Virgil's Aeneid—or a son from the noble family that commissioned the work.