Beccafumi, Domenico

Venus and Cupid

circa 1530

Place Made
Italy: Siena
Oil on linden wood panel
50 3/8 x 38 in (127.95 x 96.52 cm)
Credit Line
The Samuel H. Kress Collection
Accession #

None of Beccafumi’s works are signed but his highly personal style makes his paintings immediately identifiable. Venus and Cupid is a typical example of his bold use of color, pearly statuesque flesh, serpentine poses, and expressive, almost bizarre landscapes. Venus and Cupid stand in the foreground, a cave at left depicts the iron forge of the god Vulcan, and an extensive landscape unfolds at right. Cupid gestures to his mother asking for the arrows she holds, which were made for him by Vulcan. Venus holds the arrows hostage as she gestures to the landscape explaining to her son the weight of responsibility possession of the arrows will bring, for his arrows strike immediate love in humans, nothing to meddle with or take lightly.