CRANACH, Lucas the Elder
(b. 1472, Kronach, d. 1553, Weimar)

Venus and Cupid

Oil on canvas transferred from wood, 213 x 102 cm
The Hermitage, St. Petersburg

This is the earliest of Cranach's mythological paintings and the first in Germany depicting a naked Venus and Cupid. The interest in mythology which often served as a pretext for a display of nudity, may have been dictated by humanist fashion. At the same time, Cranach's strict sense of propriety caused him to accompany the depiction with a moralising Latin couplet: "Reject Cupid's lasciviousness with all your might, or else Venus will possess your blinded soul."

The composition of the painting is strongly influenced by Dürer.