Venus and Cupid

Dublin Core


Venus and Cupid


Venus, Cupid


The theme of this picture, by the most eccentric genius of the Venetian Renaissance, was inspired by classical marriage poems (or "epithalamia") and was almost certainly painted to celebrate a wedding (the Venus may be a portrait of the bride).

Lotto was fascinated with emblematic devices. The shell above Venus's head and the rose petals on her lap are conventional attributes of the goddess. The ivy is symbolic of conjugal fidelity while the myrtle wreath and brazier suspended from it are accoutrements of the marriage chamber. Venus wears the earring and diadem of a sixteenth-century bride. Cupid's action, an augury of fertility, confers a mood of light-hearted wit on this most popular Venetian subject.

The painting may date to the mid 1520s.


Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, Venice ca. 1480–1556 Loreto)



Date Available

The painting may date to the mid 1520s.


Purchase, Mrs. Charles Wrightsman Gift, in honor of Marietta Tree, 1986
?Granet collection, Paris (in 1912); private collection, Switzerland (until 1986); [Adrian Ward-Jackson, New York, 1986; sold to MMA]

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

oil on canvas

Physical Dimensions

36 3/8 x 43 7/8 in. (92.4 x 111.4 cm)



Lorenzo Lotto (Italian, Venice ca. 1480–1556 Loreto) , “Venus and Cupid,” Mapping Mythology: A Digital Collection of Classical Mythology in Post-Antique Art, accessed December 6, 2021,