Mars and Venus United by Love

Dublin Core


Mars and Venus United by Love


Mars, Venus


The work has sometimes been confused with a painting of Venus and Mars mentioned by Borghini ("Il riposo," 1584, p. 563) as commissioned by an unspecified emperor, and by Carlo Ridolfi ("Le maraviglie dell'arte," 1648, vol. 1, p. 320) as one of three works commissioned from Veronese by Emperor Rudolph II.

Copies of the MMA painting include one formerly in the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg (cat., 1869, no. 151) and another formerly in the Bourdon collection, Château de Bourré, Bourré, France (sold, Sotheby's, New York, January 30, 1998, no. 245).

Jacob Jordaens made a drawing after this picture in 1654 in Antwerp, when Queen Christina's collection was en route from Sweden to Rome (J. Q. van Regteren Altena, Amsterdam).

This painting was engraved by Michel Aubert in reverse [see Ref. Mariette 1742] and by Jacques Couché [see Ref. Couché 1786].


Cupid binds Mars (the god of war) to Venus with a love knot. The picture operates on a number of allegorical levels and celebrates the civilizing and nurturing effects of love (milk flows from Venus's breast and Mars's horse is restrained). By 1621 it was owned by Emperor Rudolf II, in Prague, along with three other mythological works by the artist (two of these are in the Frick Collection, New York), but its original owner is unknown. These are among Veronese's greatest works, done when at the height of his powers.

Veronese was among the greatest masters of light and color, and his work had an enduring impact on later artists, from Annibale Carracci and Velázquez to Tiepolo.


Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian, Verona 1528–1588 Venice)



Date Available



John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910
Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (until d. 1612; ?invs., 1621, no. 1151; ca. 1648, no. 450); his brother, Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (1612–d. 1619); his cousin, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (1619–d. 1637); his son, Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (1637–48; seized by Swedish troops); Christina, Queen of Sweden, Stockholm, later Rome (1648–d. 1689; abdicated 1654; invs., ?1652, no. 79 or no. 88; ca. 1689, unnumbered); Cardinal Decio Azzolino, Rome (d. 1689); his nephew, marchese Pompeo Azzolino, Rome (1689–96; sold to Odescalchi); principe Livio Odescalchi, duca di Bracciano, Rome (1696–d. 1713); marchese Baldassare Odescalchi-Erba, later principe Odescalchi, Rome (1713–21; inv., 1721, no. 39; sold to Orléans); Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, Palais Royal, Paris (1721–d. 1723); ducs d'Orléans, Palais Royal (1723–85); Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans, Palais Royal (1785–92; sold to Walckiers); vicomte Edouard de Walckiers, Brussels (1792; sold to Laborde); his cousin, François de Laborde-Méréville, Paris, later London (1792–98; consigned to Jeremiah Harman; sold to consortium of Bridgewater, Carlisle, and Leveson-Gower); Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, and George Granville Leveson-Gower, later 1st Duke of Sutherland, London (1798; exhibited for sale, the Lyceum, the Strand, London, December 26, 1798ff., no. 273, for 300 gns. to Elwyn); Hastings Elwyn, Booten, Norfolk (1799–1806; his sale, Phillips, London, May 23, 1806, no. 23); Campbell, London (until 1866; sold to Wimborne); Sir Ivor Bertie Guest, 2nd Baronet, later 1st Baron Wimborne, Canford Manor, Wimborne, Dorset (1866–1903; cat., 1888, no. 31; sale, Christie's, London, May 23, 1903, no. 75, for £6,300); [Lepper]; [Asher Wertheimer, London, 1909–10; sold through Blakeslee to MMA]

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

oil on canvas

Physical Dimensions

81 x 63 3/8 in. (205.7 x 161 cm)



Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian, Verona 1528–1588 Venice) , “Mars and Venus United by Love,” Mapping Mythology: A Digital Collection of Classical Mythology in Post-Antique Art, accessed December 6, 2021,