Venus and Cupid

Lorenzo Lotto Italian

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 608

In this startling and playful painting, Cupid devilishly urinates on his mother Venus through a laurel wreath—an act that symbolizes fertility. The provocative tone of the picture speaks to the growing popularity of eroticism in European art at the time, owing in part to the rediscovery of ancient texts. Lotto likely took inspiration from ancient Roman poetry that describes Cupid waking Venus so that she may preside over a wedding. Her crown, veil, and pearl earring are all items commonly worn by brides in sixteenth-century Venice, indicating that this was probably painted to commemorate a marriage. Venus’s distinctive features suggest that it may be a portrait of the bride.

#5079. Venus and Cupid

Venus and Cupid, Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, Venice ca. 1480–1556 Loreto), Oil on canvas

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