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European Paintings - French

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Portrait of a Lady as Venus with Cupid

17th century
17th century
80.01 cm x 63.5 cm (31 1/2 in. x 25 in.)

Pierre Mignard (Troyes, France, 1612 - 1695, Paris, France) Primary

Object Type: painting
Artist Nationality: Europe, French
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: 2017.1236

An unidentified sitter poses as a personification of Venus, the goddess of love. Pearls adorn her hair, ears, and neck and remind us that she was a deity born from the sea. Her hand gesture calls attention to her son Cupid, the god of erotic love, who sits beside her on a plush red cushion. Notably absent are his bow and arrows, a wound from which induces uncontrollable desire. Pierre Mignard thus presents his sitter as a Venus in contemporary dress who has disarmed Cupid of his power in favor of a higher spiritual love.

Mignard is quoted as saying, “Most women have no idea of what it means to be painted as they are; they have a mental image of the beauty they wish to resemble, and it is this image that they want copied, not their face.” The artist entertains the sitter’s narcissistic desires by fulfilling her fantasy.

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