Venus and Cupid

Lucas Cranach the Elder German

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 537

Cranach often treated the theme of Venus and Cupid, but this excellently preserved panel is the only version in a round format. Playing coquettishly with her veil and glancing at the viewer, Venus ignores Cupid, who is agitated by the situation. His arrow is missing, suggesting that he has been disarmed and is powerless against his mother. The picture was likely intended for display in a personal studiolo. Cranach might have painted the roundel not on commission but on speculation, to be sold to discerning collectors already conditioned by the tradition of medals and plaquettes to appreciate such refined work.

Venus and Cupid, Lucas Cranach the Elder (German, Kronach 1472–1553 Weimar), Oil on wood

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