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Oil painting - Venus Chastising Cupid
  • Venus Chastising Cupid
    Carracci, Agostino, born 1557 - died 1602
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Venus Chastising Cupid

  • Object:

    Oil painting

  • Place of origin:

    Bologna (possibly, painted)

  • Date:

    Early 17th century (painted)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Carracci, Agostino, born 1557 - died 1602 (painter (artist))

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Oil on canvas laid on panel

  • Credit Line:

    Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce

  • Museum number:

    DYCE.48

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Agostino Carracci (1557-1602) was born in Bologna and was an apprentice to Prospero Fontana (1512-1597). He subsequently trained under the engraver and architect Domenico Tibaldi (1541-1583) and under the sculptor Alessandro Menganti (1531-c. 1594). He may also have been a pupil of Bartolomeo Passarotti (1529-1592). He ran an important workshop in Bologna together with his cousin Lodovico (1555-1619) and his brother Annibale (1560-1609), with whom he founded about 1585 the Accademia degli Incamminati. Agostino produced mainly history paintings and engravings. He went to Rome with his brother in 1594 for the decoration of the Palazzo Farnese. He left in autumn 1599 and went to Parma where he died in 1602.

This painting is an early copy after an engraving by Agostino Carracci, executed ca. 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 in his back, a gesture that suggests he also had been chastised. The scene is set in a mountainous landscape with a tall tree on the right. Agostino Carracci was a prolific and successful engraver whose compositions were much appreciated as witnessed by this early copy.

Physical description

In a mountainous landscape, a female figure is chastising a blindfold winged boy carried on the back of a putto while another putto on the left is weeping, a hand behind his back.

Place of Origin

Bologna (possibly, painted)

Date

Early 17th century (painted)

Artist/maker

Carracci, Agostino, born 1557 - died 1602 (painter (artist))

Materials and Techniques

Oil on canvas laid on panel

Dimensions

Height: 31.7 cm estimate, Width: 24.7 cm estimate, :

Object history note

Bequeathed by Rev. Alexander Dyce, 1869
South Kensington Museum Art Handbooks. The Dyce and Forster Collections. With Engravings and Facsimiles. Published for the Committee of Council on Education by Chapman and Hall, Limited, 193, Piccadilly, London. 1880. Chapter I. Biographical Sketch of Mr. Dyce. pp.1-12, including 'Portrait of Mr. Dyce' illustrated opposite p.1.

Science and Art Department of the Committee of Council on Education, South Kensington Museum.A Catalogue of the Paintings, Miniatures, Drawings... Bequeathed by The Reverend Alexander Dyce. London, 1874. A 'Note' on page v comments, 'This catalogue refers to the Art portion of the Collection bequeathed to the South Kensington Museum by the Reverend Alexander Dyce, the well-known Shakespearian scholar, who died May 15, 1869'. The Catalogue. Paintings, Miniatures, &c. by Samuel Redgrave notes of the 'Oil Paintings', 'The strength of Mr. Dyce's valuable bequest to Department of Science and Art does not lie in [this] portion ... which is in its nature of a very miscellaneous character. The collection was made apparently as objects offered themselves, and without any special design.' Dyce's main interest was in literary subjects, and this is reflected in many of the paintings he bequeathed to the V&A.

Historical significance: This painting is a copy, probably of 16th 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. The engraving is reproduced and the composition discussed by E. Tietze-Conrat in Jahrbuch des Kunsthistorischen Institutes der K. K. Zentral Kommission für Denkmalpflege, xi, 1917, p. 26 f., fig. 18.

Venus is 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). The engraving was very popular in the 17th and 18th centuries and served as a model for bronzes as well as paintings. An 18th century etching (reversed) by Bouchard and Gravier (Rome, 1786) shows the same composition with the sole addition of a fluttering veil across the body of Venus

Historical context note

Agostino Carracci (1557-1602) 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), and may also have been a pupil of Bartolomeo Passarotti (1529-1592). 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.

History paintings based on religious, classical, literary or allegorical subjects, particularly developed in Italy during the Renaissance. The term was most frequently associated with Classical subjects. The development of art treatises, in which the compositional rules guiding the art of painting were discussed also influenced the evolution of history painting.

Descriptive line

Oil painting, 'Venus Chastising Cupid', after Agostino Carracci, early 17th century

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

Kauffmann C.M., Catalogue of Foreign Paintings, I. Before 1800, London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1973, p. 64, cat. no. 61
The Illustrated Bartsch, XVIII, 135 (109).

Materials

Oil paint; Canvas; Panel

Techniques

Oil painting

Categories

Paintings; Myths & Legends

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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