Cranach - Venus and Cupid
Venus and Cupid
Lucas Cranach the Elder
The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
06.12.2021 - 13:03
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CDA ID / Inventory NumberRU_ESP_GE680
Persistent Link
FR (1978) No.FR022
Venus and Cupid[Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 72, No. 22]
Lucas Cranach the Elder [Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 148-149, No. 60]
[Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 2003, No. 61]
[Friedländer, Rosenberg 1979, 72, No. 22]
Owner / Repository / Location:
OwnerThe State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
RepositoryThe State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg
LocationSt. Petersburg
Dimensions of support: 213 x 102 cm
[Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 148-149, No. 60]
Painting transferred to canvas
[Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 148-149, No. 60]
Signature / Date:
Artist's insignia at the left of centre: serpent (with elevated wings), initials 'LC' and dated '1509'
Inscriptions, Marks, Labels, Seals:
Cranach, who has proudly indicated his authorship on the cartellino prominently positioned against a dark ground, introduced in this elaborate manner an Italian pictorial subject into the North European painting repertoire, one that draws on works by Botticelli and is impressively represented by Lorenzo Costa's Venus. Clear parallels between the two works led to the suggestion in earlier research that Costa's painting served Cranach as a direct prototype. However Costa's work was identified as one of the paintings sent in 1518 as a gift by Gianfrancesco II Gonzaga, Duke of Mantua to Francis I, King of France, thus dating it about 1515/18. Moreover Friedrich III of Saxony had already announced his interest for Italian artworks as early as 1507 in a letter to Gonzaga - particularly those by Gianfrancesco's court painter Andrea Mantegna - and had offered the Mantuan duke works of similar quality by German artists - here he probably had works by his court painter in mind. There is no record that Cranach spent time in Italy, which poses the question of where he may have encountered such Italian prototypes and in this respect it would appear that the animated communication between the European courts is a factor not to be underrated.
[Görres, Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 148-149, No. 60]
Acquired in 1769 with the collection of Count Brühl in Dresden
[Cat. St. Petersburg 1986, 23]
Dresden 1899, no. 5
Weimar 1972, no. 4
Berlin 1983, no. E9
Hamburg 2003, no. 61
St. Petersburg 2016, no. 1
Moscow 2016, no. 1
Düsseldorf 2017, no. 60
Sources / Publications:
Reference on PageCatalogue NumberFigure/Plate
Cat. Coburg 201834under no. 1
Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017148-149No. 60
Bonnet 201740, 4160
Savage, Stijnman 201761
Exhib. Cat. St. Petersburg 201671-75001Fig. p. 71
Exhib. Cat. Moscow 201646-491
Exhib. Cat. Gotha, Kassel 2015103under Nos. 6, 7
Bonnet, Görres 20159
Exhib. Cat. Chemnitz 2005214, 216 Fn. 16003 (under)
Foister 200311961
Schade 200313
Koepplin 2003 C158, 15961fig. 79
Robert 2003108, 109, 11261Fig. 5
Exhib. Cat. Hamburg 200367, 167, 168, 178, 18261Pl. 61
Grimm 199874-77Figs. 9.15, 9.16
Schade, Schuttwolf 199417
Cat. St. Petersburg 198623-24
Exhib. Cat. Berlin 1983299-301E9
Cat. St. Petersburg 1981202
Friedländer, Rosenberg 197972No. 22Fig. 22
Cat. St. Petersburg 197784
Schade 197430, 425
Kislych 197371-83
Libmann 197357, 58
Libmann 1972018
Exhib. Cat. Weimar 1972 B1694
Cat. St. Petersburg 196576
Nemilov 1959 B173-178
Clark 1958330-332
Cat. St. Petersburg 1958318
Kostrov 195440-42
Nemilov 195361
Cat. St. Petersburg 1916461
Flechsig 1900 A86, 252
Waagen 1864132
Georgi 1790vol. 2, 481
Interpretation / History / Discussion:
Cranach’s first years in the service of Friedrich the Wise are characterized by an extreme innovative drive that reaches its zenith in his painted works with this first life-size nude depiction of the goddess north of the Alps. While Cranach’s painting enticingly shows the viewer Venus’ seductive power, the inscription warns against succumbing to the temptations of the Goddess of Love. On the other hand it is Venus who restrains her son Cupid a moment later with a gentle hand gesture from shoot an arrow at the viewer. Her transparent veil is employed in a similarly paradoxical manner and appears to emphasis what it should hide. By combining the game of seeing and hiding with the possibilities of the painted image on multiple levels Cranach establishes a mode of nude depiction that invites the viewer to actively participate and is repeated in many of his later depictions of the nude figure.
[Görres, Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017, 148-149, No. 60]
Material / Technique:
  • Date: 2017
  • Technical Examination
  • 8.01 Support
  • The painting has been transferred from a wooden support to a canvas one. During the treatment the dimensions were changed.
    [Exhib. Cat. Düsseldorf 2017]
      • Date:
      • Technical examination / Scientific analysis
      • X-radiography
      • Lucas Cranach the Elder - The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg - Venus and Cupid - X-RadiographsLucas Cranach the Elder - The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg - Venus and Cupid - X-RadiographsLucas Cranach the Elder - The State Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg - Venus and Cupid - X-Radiographs
      • 8.07