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An Allegory with Venus and Time

circa 1680
17th century
154.1 cm x 113.6 cm (60 11/16 in. x 44 3/4 in.)

Domenico Piola (Genoa, Italy, 1627 - 1703, Genoa, Italy) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Europe, Italian
Medium and Support: Oil on canvas
Credit Line: Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin, The Suida-Manning Collection, 2017
Accession Number: 2017.1306

In this allegory, Time, with his hourglass, presents Venus, the goddess of love, with a mature rose, as if to remind her that earthly love is as fleeting as a rose’s bloom. In response, Venus reveals her higher identity as a symbol of enduring spiritual love and divine beauty, a concept that evolved from the rediscovery of the writings of Plato and other ancient philosophers during the Renaissance. Venus here has already disarmed her son Cupid, the god of erotic love, by breaking his bow’s string. He is now unable to enflame uncontrollable desires in people and gods by shooting arrows into them.

Domenico Piola, the leading artist in Genoa in the second half of the seventeenth century, painted many ceiling frescoes for churches and palaces. Paintings predating 1684 like this one are especially rare, since French naval bombardments in May of that year destroyed most of Genoa, including Piola’s house and studio.

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