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Tapestry - Venus admonishing Cupid
  • Venus admonishing Cupid
    Castello, Giovanni Battista
  • Enlarge image

Venus admonishing Cupid

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Brussels (probably, made)

  • Date:

    1555-1565 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Castello, Giovanni Battista (designed by)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Tapestry woven in wool and silk

  • Credit Line:

    Given by Dowager Viscountess Harcourt GBE

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This tapestry probably belonged to a set of sixteen, though some are now untraceable. The subject is Venus admonishing Cupid, from the story of Cupid and Psyche, as related by the Latin author Lucius Apuleius in the Golden Ass. The V&A has two other tapestries from the set: Venus seeking vengeance on Psyche and Psyche's Punishment in Venus's Service. The story was a favourite pictorial theme during the Renaissance.

The tapestry shows Venus reproaching her son, Cupid, for his affair with Psyche. The Goddess is seen entering from the left gesturing forcefully in an accusatory fashion, her billowing drapery accentuating the dynamism of her pose. In contrast, Cupid reclines on a bed with a chastised expression, his hand over his heart and his bow and quiver laid aside.

The design for this tapestry, executed by Giovanni Battista Castello (1509-1569), and in the National Galleries of Scotland, shows Venus in a greater state of undress, indicating that when the tapestry came to be woven, the composition was altered to allow an extra fold of fabric to cover her form, resulting in a more modest display.

Physical description

wool and silk on a wool warp:18-20 warps to the inch.

Place of Origin

Brussels (probably, made)


1555-1565 (designed)


Castello, Giovanni Battista (designed by)

Materials and Techniques

Tapestry woven in wool and silk


Weight: 14 kg estimated (1msq = 1.2kg), Width: 3274 mm Top edge, Width: 3300 mm Bottom edge, Length: 3765 mm Proper right, Length: 3752 mm Proper left

Object history note

This tapestry was given to the museum along with several other tapestries, T.767 - T.775-1950, by the Dowager Viscountess Harcourt, G.B.E. (R.P.: 50/2906). The tapestry and two others from the same series, which are also in the museum's collection, originally came from a set of approximately sixteen tapestries. They used to hang in room 21.

Descriptive line

Tapestry, 'Venus admonishing Cupid', designed by Giovanni Battista Castello, probably Brussels, 1555-65

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

Clifford, Timothy, 'Designs of Desire: Architectural and Ornamental Prints and Drawings, 1500-1850', National Galleries of Scotland, 1999, p. 63.
G.F. Wingfield Digby, 'The Tapestry Collection:Medieval and Renaissance', London: HMSO, 1980, p.50, plate 60.
Clifford, Timothy, 'G.B. Castello's designs for the 'Cupid and Psyche' tapestries, in Burlington, April 1975:234-238.
Schirn Kunsthalle Frankfurt catalogue, 1992, no.192, pl.198


Wool; Silk



Subjects depicted

Beds (furniture)


Tapestry; Wall coverings; Textiles


Textiles and Fashion Collection

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