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Mars, Venus and Cupid

PALMA il Vecchio, Jacopo (1480 - 1528)

Mars, Venus and Cupid

Media: oil on canvas

Size: 91.4 x 137.2 cm

Acquired: 1987; Purchase

Accession Number: NMW A 238

At Venice, Palma Vecchio was influenced by Bellini, Cima and Titian. Brightness of colour, clarity of lighting and a predeliction for lush blonde female types are characteristic of his personal style. This composition of about 1520 draws on earlier mythologies by Titian. The chastely clothed Venus has disarmed the god of war Mars and the god of love Cupid, whose arrow she holds as he unstrings his bow. Venus draws their attention to the apparition, probably of Jupiter, at the top right. The precise narrative is elusive, but a contract between sacred and profane love is probably intended. The atmospheric landscape background is characteristic of the Venetian school. The ornate gilt frame is a fine example of a sixteenth century type known as a 'Sansovino frame' after the sculptor and architect Jacopo Sansovino. During the nineteenth century this picture was in the collection of the French King Louis Philippe.

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