Venus and Cupid, Lorenzo Lotto
- Posted by Lorenzo Lotto
- Museum: Metropolitan Museum
- Year: 1520-1530
Overview of the painting :
Venus and Cupid – Lorenzo Lotto. 1520-1530. Oil on canvas. 92.4×111.4
Lotto is one of the most interesting, versatile and original artists of Italian Chinkvecento. The circumstances of ordering this work are unknown. Perhaps the picture was written at the request of the artist’s nephew, Mario d’Armano. A typical, it would seem, for Lotto scene seems from an iconographic point of view rather complicated, giving opportunities for many interpretations. The simplest is that which interprets the work as an allegory of happiness: the iconographic structure of the work, presumably written on the occasion of the wedding, directly corresponds to classical epitalams.
The composition is dominated by the figure of Venus (its portrait resemblance to the bride is not ruled out), whose head is crowned by magnificent diadem with a wedding veil. Sink, rose petals that are as if just descended on her bosom, and myrtle are classic symbols that identify the goddess. Other details of the composition are associated with love and fidelity: myrtle garland and censer, red cover, ivy. Cupid pisses through a myrtle wreath, which means the wishes of fertility and a happy fate for the union.
The foreground depicts a snake, almost invisible among the drapery depots on which Venus is erected. Some tend to associate it with a sense of jealousy. But according to ancient beliefs, this reptile was a phallic symbol associated with Mother Earth, and here is an allegory of happiness and fertility.
In the background, behind the head of Venus, the sprouts of the ivy who blamed the tree attract attention. The main characteristics of curly plants is that they are evergreen and grow, “hugging” tree trunks. The cloak was associated with manifestations of love and friendship, becoming a symbol of fidelity and eternal love.
The artist was able to surprisingly display the impudent expression and cunning of Cupid. On the head of the faithful companion Venus is a wreath from the myrtle (a plant sacred to the goddess), revered in antiquity as a symbol of fertility. This interpretation is supported here by the gesture of the divine boy, marking a happy and fruitful union.