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The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus')

Image credit: The National Gallery, London

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Venus, the goddess of love, reclines languidly on her bed, the curve of her body echoed in the sweep of sumptuous satin fabric. The pearly tones of her smooth skin contrast with the rich colours and lively brushstrokes of the curtain and sheets. Venus‘ face is reflected in the mirror held up by her son, Cupid, but her reflection is blurred – we can’t see who she really is. Perhaps Velázquez wanted to make sure that Venus – the personification of female beauty – was not an identifiable person; we have to ‘complete’ her features with our imagination. Cupid’s face and far leg are very loosely painted and appear almost unfinished: Velázquez deliberately used a sketchy style in order to focus our attention on Venus. This is Velázquez’s only surviving female nude and one of his most celebrated works.

The National Gallery, London



The Toilet of Venus ('The Rokeby Venus')




Oil on canvas


H 122.5 x W 177 cm

Accession number


Acquisition method

Presented by The Art Fund, 1906

Work type



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Normally on display at

The National Gallery, London

Trafalgar Square, London, Greater London WC2N 5DN England

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