portrait of venus and cupid late 17th century circle or studio of sir godfrey kneller

Portrait of Venus and Cupid, late 17th century; Circle or Studio of Sir Godfrey Kneller.



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This is a large and impressive painting of Venus and her son Cupid, mythological deities whose popularity has lasted from Roman times to the present day; especially during the Renaissance and the Baroque many paintings of them were made by the greatest artists.
Here, Venus seems to have been caught unawares whilst her son sharpens an arrow.
The pose is modelled on the Classical marble sculpture known as the 'Medici' Venus. Interestingly there is a Medici vase on a plinth in the background as a further allusion.
Kneller had spent four years in Italy and was certainly in Florence, returning to London with a full knowledge of Italian works in the early/mid 1670s.
It is entirely possible that the figure of Venus is a royal mistress as it shows enough elements of personality that it is probably based on a real person.
Another theory is that she could be Kneller's mistress Mrs Voss.
(Our thanks to Peter Harrison of Harrison Fine Art and M. Scalini, Director Art Historian at the Italian Ministry of Culture for their help)
Different tales exist on the origin of Venus and Cupid. One says that Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, had a love affair with Mars the god of war. Out of this relationship Cupid was born. Cupid has got attributes from both of his parents. Like his mother he is considered to be a deity of love, or more precisely the god of falling in love. He is seen as an innocent little child with bow and arrows. He shoots arrows to the heart and thereby awakens love that one canít resist.
Venus and Cupid are often shown in intimate situations reflecting the love between mother and child.
This portrait has been in the collection of the famous art critic Brian Sewell, who mentions having it reframed in his diary. Sewell, (1931 Ė 2015) was an English art critic and media personality. He wrote for the Evening Standard and was noted for his acerbic view of conceptual art and the Turner Prize. The Guardian described him as "Britain's most famous and controversial art critic", while the Evening Standard called him the "nationís best art critic".
When the painting was sold at Christie's it was described as being an autograph work by Sir Godfrey Kneller.
It has also been in the collection of Heinz Mosch, the German building mogul.
SIZE: 57 x 38 inches framed.
PROVENANCE: Private Collection, England
Bonhamís, London, Anonymous Sale, 22 May 1969 (Lot 165)
Brian Sewell (1931 Ė 2015), London (acquired at the above sale)
Christieís, London, 8 January 1971 (Lot 31)
Heinz Mosch, Wiesbaden (acquired at the above sale)
Internal Ref: venus


Height = 145 cm (57")
Width = 96.5 cm (38")
Depth = 8 cm (3")

This item is SOLD and is no longer available to purchase.

* This item has been sold, though you can still email the seller if you wish

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