Perched upon a rocky mount, Venus and her son Cupid are accompanied by attendants. Below, Venus’s husband Vulcan (god of fire and metalworking) builds a fence around them amid putti, rabbits, and a peacock, all symbols of love and fertility. The god of spring wind, Zephyrus, blows flowers on the goddess. The bull in the upper left symbolizes the zodiacal sign of Taurus that governs the month of April along with Venus. This allegory of April may have been a preparatory design for a lost series of paintings depicting the twelve months; it closely recalls a fresco cycle of this type in Ferrara (Palazzo Schifanoia) by Francesco Cossa. The drawing has been attributed to a follower of Cossa or an artist in the circle of the Venetian master Giovanni Bellini.
Marking: Annotated on the old mat in pencil in a modern hand: Ferrarese School. Venus with Cupid attended by the Hours on a mount surrounded by a palisade. / c.p. 9.7. Hill. See of Vasari Society by whom it has been reproduced.
Jan Pietersz. Zoomer, Amsterdam (Lugt 1511); private collection, Italy (?) (Lugt Suppl. 2798); John Skippe, the Upper Hall, Ledbury, England (see Lugt 1529a-b); his sister, Penelope Skippe, married in 1774 to James Martin, Overbury Court, Worcestershire; James Martin's son, Old Colwall, Malvern; by descent through his mother to Edward Holland; his sister, Mrs. A.C. Rayner-Wood; his nephew, Edward Holland-Martin; Skippe sale, 1958, lot 81, pl. 12. Acquired by Robert Lehman in 1958.