Artemisia Gentileschi, Venus and Cupid

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  • Topic: Agostino Tassi, Artemisia Gentileschi, Orazio Gentileschi
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  • Published : October 30, 2012
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Mariam Ahmad
Art History 102
April 28, 2011

Artemisia Gentileschi, Venus and Cupid, ca. 1625-30. Oil on canvas, 38 x 56 5/6 inches. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VA.

Artemisia Gentileschi’s Venus and Cupid is a painting of an angel caressing a woman resting on the bed. In actuality, the painting is about Venus, the Goddess of Love, who is asleep in a very luxurious and classical environment. While she is asleep, Cupid diligently wields a peacock-feathered fan to keep away pests, which makes the environment more safe and peaceful. Primarily strong contrasting lights and darkness display Gentileschi’s work, perhaps inspired by both her father and Caravaggio. Her paintings are all primarily bold compositions for example the way the subject matters are placed in the paintings you cant help but look at them, also the vivid colors Gentileschi used help with that too the deep red curtains and ultramarine sheets. This painting is quite large and is a horizontal rectangular format while using oil on canvas. (“Venus and Cupid”) The primary subject matter of the painting, Venus and Cupid, is Venus, the Goddess of Love. Artemisia Gentileschi seems to portray powerful women for example Judith, Susanna, Cleopatra, and Danäe, depicted either as heroines or victims in the paintings. Cupid is also important in this painting, him being the son of Venus, he seems to be portraying the image of an overseer or a protector while Venus seems to be freely sleeping. (“Venus and Cupid”)

The artist is known to portray powerful women with meaningful subject matter as mentioned before. I also believe that Artemisia, the artist, chose this subject matter because this painting and scene was a perfect way for her display her extended education. This painting may have been a way to show her life, experiences and her luxurious life that she was living before Artemisia’s life hit tragedy. (A., Sarah) Artemisia had been raped by Agostino Tassi, after which he promised to marry...
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