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

Venus with Cupid Stealing Honey

Oil and tempera on red beechwood, 39 x 25 cm
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

On the panel fixed to the tree the inscription in Latin reads: "As the Infant Cupid was stealing honey from the hollow, the bee stung the thief on the finger. Thus does brief and transitory pleasure harm us too: it is mingled with sharp pain." This refers to the nineteenth idyll Keriokleptes (The Honey Thief) of Theocritus (310-250 BC).

Cranach executed at least fifteen versions of this scene the earliest being in the National Gallery, London.