Mars and Venus United by Love

Artist: Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian, Verona 1528–1588 Venice)

Date: 1570s

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 81 x 63 3/8 in. (205.7 x 161 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.189


In this visually opulent and sensual painting, Cupid binds Mars (the god of war) to Venus with a love knot. It celebrates the civilizing and nurturing effects of love, as milk flows from Venus’s breast and Mars’s warhorse is restrained. By 1621 the painting was owned by Emperor Rudolf II in Prague, along with other mythological works by the artist (two are in the Frick Collection, New York), but its original owner is unknown. A masterpiece of light and color, works such as this had an enduring impact on later artists including Velázquez and Giambattista Tiepolo.