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VENUS TEASED BY CUPIDS
Giuseppe Bartolomeo Chiari
oil on canvas, c. 1720
From: "The Pages"
Chiari was born in March of 1654, but its not certain whether in Lucca or Rome. He
was a successful frescoist as well as painter
Young Giuseppe was apprenticed at the age of 10 to a painter and art dealer, Carlantonio
Galliani, but joined Carlo Marattis studio in Rome two years later, in 1666. He was
Marattis most faithful pupil, keeping his art alive into the 1720s with a softer,
more elegant version of his classicism. His first official commission was for paintings on
the side walls of the chapel of the Marcaccioni in Santa Maria del
Suffragio, Rome. This project established his reputation; thereafter he won the patronage
of many noble Roman families and of foreign visitors to Rome. In the early years of the
18th c, Pope Clement
XI became Chiaris most important patron. The Graf Christian Schaumburg-Lippe of
Germany, also snapped up Chiaris paintings.
He painted predominantly religious works, altho he also did some fine cabinet pieces
of mythologic scenes. Chiari was made Principe of the Accademia di S Luca, Rome, from 1722
The subject comes from classic mythology. Venus is the Roman name for Aphrodite, goddess
of love. Unlike other Olympians she had but one duty to incite desire. According to
legend, her name means foam-born, because she sprang from the foaming blood of
her murdered father, Uranus, when his body was flung into the sea. That love arose from
murder expressed the Greek idea of the indestructibility of life.
Because of her great beauty Venus was courted by all the gods, but she married Vulcan
(Greek name: Hephæstus), the ugly lame smith-god. Actually, she had no choice because
Juno (Hera) had ordained the marriage as a punishment for Vulcan, whom Juno knew would be
tortured by Venus endless infidelities. (This nasty plan backfired, tho,
because Vulcan loved Venus so much he didnt care what she did.)
Cupid was the son of Venus and Jupiter. He also acted as Venus agent. He was a very
naughty boy, whose magical arrows could induce love or hate, depending on whether he used
a golden arrow or a leaden one. He disobeyed his mother only once, after he grew up: he
scratched himself with his own arrow & fell in love with a beautiful mortal, Psyche.
Chiari has taken a liberty with the classical story in that there are two Cupids! Perhaps
the second is merely showing the movement that takes place a bit later. Naughty Cupid
teases his mother with his arrow. Chiari has included a rose and doves, which were sacred
to Venus. The sculpted shell in the background is an allusion to Venus birth. Lush
color and graceful composition characterize the work.
[Compare this Venus with Vouets, in Gal. 7]