About this artwork

The mischievous, naked Cupid, clutching his bow, identifies the languid nude lady as his mother Venus, the goddess of love. Her wispy hair and transparent drapery flutter around as if in a gentle breeze, their lightness contrasting with the heavy gold necklaces. She conforms to Cranach's ideal of beauty, inspired by the theory of classical art rather than by practical examples. Cranach signed the painting on Cupid's pedestal with a winged serpent. This motif featured on the coat of arms awarded to him by the Elector of Saxony in 1508. From about 1537 the serpent's wings appear folded as here.

Lucas Cranach

Lucas Cranach

Cranach produced his most important works as court artist to the Electors of Saxony in Wittenburg. He established a flourishing workshop which produced portraits, altarpieces, allegorical and mythological compositions and designs for costumes, emblems and weapons. He was born and trained in Kronach near Coburg and spent some time in Vienna around 1500. He was initially influenced by Dürer, but soon established his own inventive and colourful style. Martin Luther was a close friend and godfather to Cranach's daughter.