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Title Venus Chastising Cupid
Collection Victoria and Albert Museum
Artist After Carracci, Agostino (Italian painter, engraver, and draftsman, 1557-1602)
Date Earliest about 1600
Date Latest about 1650

This painting is an early copy made from an engraving by Agostino Carracci, executed about 1590. It shows Venus in the middle of the composition chastising Cupid, who is blindfold and carried on the back of a putto, while another on the left is weeping with a hand on his bottom, which suggests that he had been similarly chastised. The scene is set in a mountainous landscape with a tree on the right.

Agostino Carracci was a prolific and successful engraver whose compositions were much copied. He was born in Bologna and became an apprentice to Prospero Fontana (1512-1597). He subsequently trained under the engraver and architect Domenico Tibaldi (1541-1583) and the sculptor Alessandro Menganti (1531-c.1594). He ran an important workshop in Bologna, together with his cousin Lodovico (1555-1619) and his brother Annibale (1560-1609), with whom he founded the Accademia degli Incamminati around 1585. Agostino mainly produced history paintings and engravings. He travelled to Rome with his brother in 1594 for the decoration of the Palazzo Farnese, before leaving in 1599 for Parma, where he died.

Current Accession Number DYCE.48
Subject landscape; figure; mythology (Venus; Cupid)
Measurements 31.7 x 24.7 cm
Material oil on canvas (laid on panel)
Acquisition Details Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce 1869.
Publications Kauffmann C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London, 1973, p. 64, cat. no. 61; The Illustrated Bartsch, 1978-, XVIII, 135 (109).

This painting is a copy, probably of sixteenth century date, after an engraving by Agostino Carracci (impression in the British Museum, London, U,2.155) from the series titled Lascivie illustrating the different natures of love, made around 1590. Venus beating Cupid, who is blindfold and carried on the back of a putto, while another on the left weeping and holds a hand to his bottom, suggesting that he has been similarlyu chastised. The scene is set in a mountainous landscape with a tree on the right.

According to mythological accounts, and especially to Herodotus' Cosmogony, Cupid was blinded by Folly, thus embodying the blind passion which characterises love. He also embodies two different aspects of love, both profane (Anteros) and sacred (Eros). The subject depicted here has traditionally been interpreted as the punishment of physical love, an iconography relating to Renaissance Neoplatonism, a philosophy in which the dual aspect of love plays a significant role.

This theme was also treated by Annibale Carracci in the Galleria Farnese, Rome, the decoration of which celebrates profane love (see Charles Dempsey, 'Et nos cedamus amori: Observations on the Farnese Gallery', in The Art Bulletin, vol. 50, no. 4 (1968), pp. 363-374).

This early painted copy painting demonstrates the success of Agostino's engravings; Bartsch listed about ten engraved copies, mostly in reverse, after the original print, and an early seventeenth century drawing inspired by it, although not a direct copy, in the Albertina, Vienna (Inv. 2776).

Rights Owner © Victoria and Albert Museum, London
Author Ana Debenedetti



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