Data sheet

  • Author: Pontormo
  • Date: 1532 - 1533
  • Collection: PAINTING
  • Technique: Oil on wood panel
  • Dimensions: 128 x 194 cm
  • Inventory: Inv. 1890 n. 1570


This panel painting was completed in about 1533 by Jacopo Carucci, known as Pontormo, drawing on a preparatory cartoon by Michelangelo Buonarroti, as we can see from the sculptural forms and torsion of the Venus, which recalls the statue of Night for the New Sacristy of San Lorenzo. The subject of the painting is the myth of Venus and Cupid, as well as the theme of love in humanistic philosophy. The two figures represent the contrast between sensual, earthly love, embodied by the young Cupid, and spiritual, celestial love, represented by the goddess Venus, who is unmoved by Eros’s kiss. The objects on the altar – a puppet, a quiver and arrows, flowers and masks – allude to the fleeting nature of the passions and the two-faced deception of love, which torments the soul, causing its death, which was a central motif in Michelangelo’s poetry as well.

Vasari wrote in his Life of Pontormo that the work was commissioned by the Florentine merchant and banker (and friend of Michelangelo) Bartolomeo Bettini for his bedroom, for which he envisioned an iconographic programme that might have been inspired by Dante’s Paradiso. The painting was sequestered by the emissaries of Duke Alessandro and brought to Palazzo Vecchio. Venus’s nudity was painted over with drapery covering the area from her breasts to mid-thigh, which was then removed by the renowned restorer Ulisse Forni in 1852, returning the painting to its original state.



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