Venus in front of the mirror, Diego Velazquez – description

Venus in front of the mirror, Diego Velazquez – description
Venus in front of the mirror, Diego Velazquez - description - 1

  • Posted by Diego Velazquez
  • Museum: National Gallery (London)
  • Year: Around 1647-1651

Overview of the painting :

Venus in front of the mirror is Diego Velazquez. Around 1647-1651. Oil on canvas. 122.5×177

   The presented work is the only picture of Diego Velazquez that captures a naked female figure. This is due to the sharply negative attitude of the Spanish church towards such images. However, there were many similar works on mythological subjects in the royal collection, for example, Titian and other Renaissance artists. According to the documents, it is known that Velazquez wrote several more similar paintings, but they did not survive.

   Venus, the goddess of love, was the most beautiful goddess of the ancient world and was considered the personification of female beauty. The painter showed her with his son Cupid. He holds the mirror so that she can see both herself and the one who contemplates it. This technique a hundred years before Velazquez was invented by Titian specifically for the image of the goddess (“Venus with a mirror”, 1550s, National Gallery of Art, Washington), it is also represented with Cupid.

   For the first time, the picture is mentioned in 1651 as stored in the collection of the young son of the then Prime Minister of Spain, famous for his loving and patronizing art. Subsequently, he became the Marquis del Carpio and the Viceroy of Naples. This status allowed him to order such canvases without fear of persecution of the Inquisition. In the Marquis house, work hung with a 16th-century Venetian painting depicting nymph nude. In a word, “Venus in front of the mirror” remained unique in Spanish art until the appearance of “Roose Mahi” by Francisco Goya, inspired by the masterpiece of Velazquez.

The painting “Venus in front of the mirror” has other names
   The work is known under the names “Venera Toilet” and “Venus I Cupid”. It hit the National Gallery in London in 1906 from the English estate of Roqueby – Park in Yorkshire, so it got another name – “Venus from Roqueby”. Gallery experts believe that Cupid and Venus’s face in the mirror were rewritten in the 18th century.