The goddess of love, Venus was born from the foam caused by the severed testicles of Uranus that Saturn threw into the sea. She was brought to the shores of Cythera, her sacred island, on a seashell, which is how Sandro Botticelli depicted her in the Birth of Venus (c. 1485; Florence, Uffizi). Frustrated by her rejection, Jupiter married her off to the deformed Vulcan, but, in spite of this union, Venus had many illicit affairs. Annibale Carracci depicted her at her toilet assisted by the Graces (Venus Adorned by the Graces; 1594-1595; Washington, National Gallery), the event after her indiscretion with Mars. Titian painted her trying to stop Adonis, whom she loved, from hunting the boar that would cause his death (Venus and Adonis; 1553-1554; Madrid, Prado), and Annibale rendered her in the Farnese ceiling (c. 1597-1600; Rome, Palazzo Farnese) in bed with Anchises, with whom she bore Aeneas, the hero of Virgil's Aeneid. Paris gave Venus the Golden Apple of Hesperides as reward for her beauty, the scene depicted by Lucas Cranach the Elder in 1530 (The Judgment of Paris; Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle), and Peter Paul Rubens in 1602 (London, National Gallery). The reclining Venus became a major subject in art, as established by Giorgione in his Sleeping Venus (c. 1510; Dresden, Gemäldegalerie). She was sometimes paired with her son Cupid by artists such as Cranach (Venus and Cupid; 1520; Bucharest, Muzeul National), Agnolo Bronzino (Allegory of Venus and Cupid; 1540s; London, National Gallery), and Lorenzo Lotto (Venus and Cupid; c. 1525; New York, Metropolitan Museum).
   See also Venus Pudica.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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