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Pen and ink on vellum - Venus and Cupid trampling on a Serpent
  • Venus and Cupid trampling on a Serpent
    Parentino, Bernardo
  • Enlarge image

Venus and Cupid trampling on a Serpent

  • Object:

    Pen and ink on vellum

  • Place of origin:

    Italy (probably, drawn)

  • Date:

    second half 15th century - early 16th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Parentino, Bernardo (artist)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    pen and ink on vellum

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case TOPIC, shelf 2A

Physical description

Venus and Cupid trampling on a Serpent; Venus, standing, wearing only a piece of drapery over her arms. she holds a vase in her left hand and presses one of her breasts with the other. Cupid stands behind with his torch; Pen and ink on vellum.

Place of Origin

Italy (probably, drawn)


second half 15th century - early 16th century (made)


Parentino, Bernardo (artist)

Materials and Techniques

pen and ink on vellum


Height: 24.2 cm, Width: 17.1 cm

Object history note

This object was previously attributed to Antonio Del Pollajuolo.

Descriptive line

Parentino, Bernardo (probably); Venus and Cupid trampling on a Serpent; Pen and ink on vellum; Previously attributed to Antonio Del Pollajuolo; Italian School; Second half 15th century - early 16th century.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Supportive text for Collection Box Topic 2a: Drawing Technique and Purpose, Victoria & Albert Museum.
DYCE COLLECTION. A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings, Engravings, Rings and Miscellaneous Objects Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London : South Kensington Museum, 1874.
no.2, p.7
Lambert, Susan. Drawing: Technique and Purpose, London: H.M.S.O and Victoria and Albert Museum, 1981
Ward-Jackson, Peter, Italian Drawings. Volume I. 14th-16th century, London, 1979, pp. 19-20

The following is the full text of the entry:

(?) PARENTINO, BERNARDO (1437- I 53 I)

Venus and Cupid trampling on a serpent beside an altar
Inscribed in ink 'm.i.' as in Lugt 2981. Inscribed on the mount 'Antonio Poll [aiulo]', the last two syllables being torn away
Pen and ink on vellum
9! x 61 (242 x 171) Dyce 149

PROVENANCE Padre Resta (see below);
Lord Somers (no. m. 1 as. in Lugt 2981); Dyce Bequest 1869

LITERATURE Dyce Catalogue no. 149 (as by Antonio Pollaiuolo); Reitlinger, p. 7, no. 7 (as North Italian, late 15th century); J. Byam Shaw, 'A lost portrait of Mantegna and a group of Paduan drawings' in OMD, 9, no. 33, June 1934, p. 4 and pl. 7; Z. Wazbinski, 'A propos de quelques dessins
de Parentino pour le Couvent de Santa Giustina' in Arte Veneta, 17, 1963, pp. 21-6 and fig. 25

The name Antonio Pollaiuolo is written against the number m.1. in the Resta MS in the British Museum (described in Popham, Resta ; Lugt5 2981; and Lugt, Supplement , p. 419). Byam Shaw places the drawing in a group of drawings that he ascribes to Parentina, and Wazninski endoreses the attribution. The latter compares the Venus and the Cupid with the figures in a scene showing a sacrifice in Parentino with certainty. The name is, nevertheless, a convenient one to cover a fairly homogenous group of Paduan origin, dating from the end of the 15th century or the beginning of the 16th.

The drawing is similar to no. 12 above in handling, composition and mood, as well as in the artist's predilection for slender, androgynous women with long legs, narrow hips and small high breasts. The drawings might even be by the same hand. But some of the similarities are generic rather than particular, and if we compare the left hand of each goddess, which is in exactly the same position in each drawing, holding a vase, the differences in handling suggest two different artists. The use of the left hand to hold the vase may mean that both drawings were designs for engravings.

Labels and date

The catalogue and exhibition label text is as follows:

'2. Probably by Bernardo Parentino
(1437-1531); Italian
Venus and Cupid trampling on a Serpent
Inscribed in ink by Padre Resta M. 1 (Lugt 2981) and Antonio Poll
From the collections of Padre Resta and Lord Somers
Pen and ink on vellum 24.2 x 17.1 cm
VAM Dyce 149 (Dyce Bequest)

Ink on vellum was well adapted to express, through hatching, the clarity of quattrcento painting. Very similar hatching was used in contemporary Italian engravings, and it has been suggested that this drawing is preparatory to such a print. The mount with its wash lines is Padre Resta's (1635-1714).
(PWJ I 14)' [28/01/1981]


Pen and ink; Vellum (paper)


Drawing; Hatching

Subjects depicted

Vase; Snake; Woman; Altar; Cupid


Drawings; Myths & Legends; Androgyny


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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