VENUS AND CUPID
Sculpted silver-plated wood with gilt details.
This Venus, her sinuous body only partially modestly covered by a twisted drapery, seems to echo one of the most fascinating creations of Giambologna, the bronze figure representing the same goddess (1570-72) which originally crowned the so-called “Fiorenza” fountain of the Medicean villa of Petraia. The mannerist grace of the Flemish artist who worked in the capital of the Grand Duchy is echoed by this work, which was most probably realized in Lombardy during the next few decades.
The fact that the work comes from this region may be inferred from the fact that Venus – on which Cupid, recognized by the quiver at his side, is leaning – is not resting her foot on a vase as in the case of the Florentine sculpture, but on a shield with scrolls inside which we recognize the Pallavicino Visconti coat of arms. The latter is divided in four parts and may be read thus: nel 1° e nel 4° a cinque punti d’oro, equipollenti a quattro di rosso (alias d’azzurro) (Pallavicino), nel 2° e nel 3° d’argento alla biscia di azzurro ondeggiante in palo, coronata d’oro, ingolante per la metà un putto di carnagione posto in fascia e con le braccia distese (Visconti). The centre of the gilt division is marked by a red chess-square.
Lombardy, late 16th century
Height: 140 cm