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Venus, the goddess of love, leans against a leafy tree while her son Cupid, the god of desire, tries to get her attention. Clutching a stolen honeycomb, he complains as bees swarm and stings him – but Venus is uninterested in her son. Instead, her attention is directed towards us.
Cranach painted numerous versions of this subject; there’s another in the National Gallery’s collection, Cupid complaining to Venus. His depictions, which combine a moralising message with blatant eroticism, were especially popular with his patrons.
oil on wood
H 38.1 x W 23.5 cm
gift from the Drue Heinz Charitable Trust, 2018