Blog post

Venus and Cupid

A relationship that has inspired artists for centuries

Julia Schellenberg (opens in new window) (Europeana Foundation)

No love is stronger than the love between mother and child. Today, we want to explore the striking connection between Venus and Cupid. It’s a relationship that has been subject of many artworks throughout the centuries, inspiring painters from across Europe.

Different tales exist about the origin of Venus and Cupid. Some say that Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, had a love affair with Mars, the god of war. Out of this relationship, Cupid was born. In the following painting you see Venus with Mars, who is being disarmed by Cupid.

image (1) Mars, Venus and Cupid, Nationalmuseum Sweden, Public Domain

Cupid has attributes from both of his parents. Like his mother he is considered to be the god of love, or more precisely, the god of falling in love. He is portrayed as an innocent little child with bow and arrows. He shoots arrows to the heart, and awakening a love that you’re powerless to resist.

Venus and Cupid are often shown in intimate poses, reflecting the unique love between mother and child. In the painting below, Venus sits on her bed, while Cupid is on her lap and holding on to her neck. Both kiss each other.

8a6decf6cda51e383b2bd468336ec9a3 Cupid Kissing Venus, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

Venus and Cupid, Teylers Museum, CC BY-NC

Sometimes, Venus has to hold back her son, who shoots his arrows without meaning or reason into the hearts of men, igniting their desire. In this image, you can see Cupid as he begs Venus to give back his arrows.

assetimage2 (6) Cupid begging Venus to give back his arrows, Rijksmuseum, Public Domain

If these paintings and drawings have made you curious to see more depictions of this mythical pair, you can explore our Pinterest board dedicated to the special relationship shared by Venus and Cupid. You may also be interested in our related post about Chubby Babies in Paintings. Enjoy!