Mars and Venus Surrounded by Nymphs and PuttiArtist(s)Giovanni Jacopo CaraglioObject Creation Datecirca 1530-1540Medium & Supportengraving on cream laid paperDimensions
16 ½ in x 13 3/16 in (41.91 cm x 33.5 cm)Credit LineMuseum PurchaseLabel copy
March 28, 2009
Venus exposes and unmans Mars in this print, transforming Mavors armipotens (Mars, powerful in arms) into Mavors impotens. The goddess of love raises her right hand, commanding Cupid and some putti to disrobe the god of war. Stripped of the outward trappings of aggressive masculinity, the god’s vaunted maleness is revealed in its true, diminutive proportions. The Three Graces—goddesses of beauty, charm, and joy—crowd around Mars and Venus and witness the revelation, compounding the war god’s shock and embarrassment. This print was copied from a drawing by Rosso Fiorentino, who created it as an erotic joke for the famous writer and satirist Pietro Aretino (1492–1556). Soon after he executed the drawing, Rosso entered into the service of the French king Francis I (1494–1547), whose court at Fontainebleau delighted in titillating mythological images of men dominated by women, of transvestitism, and of cuckoldry.Subject matter
Venus exposes and unmans the war god Mars in this print. The goddess of love, nude except for a girdle cinched around her torso, sits on a bed on the left with her back to us and raises her right hand to command that Mars be disrobed. The war god stands powerless before her as Cupid pulls off his shirt and putti toy with his armor and weapons. Stripped of the outward trappings of aggressive masculinity, the god’s vaunted maleness is revealed in its true, diminutive proportions. The Three Graces, goddesses of beauty, charm, and joy, crowd around Mars and Venus and witness the revelation.Physical Description
The nude figures of four women, a man, a winged boy, and numerous putti stand in front of a curtained bed. The man stands near the center of the crowd and gasps, apparently in shock, as his jacket is pulled off by the young boy behind him. The woman seated on the bed beckons toward the man.Primary Object ClassificationPrintCollection AreaWesternRights
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