Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time


Tons of action here, not much agreement among art historians on what it all means.

For sure Cupid is kissing his mother, Venus, on the mouth (whaat?) while fondling her left breast (yes), and sticking his rear end out too far.


The little putto (mischievous chubby boy) on the right seems delighted to be there, while the old woman on the left does not. Father Time, in the upper right, looks pretty upset about the whole thing, too.


Cupid's foot is perhaps the most famous element of the whole painting, because it is "the foot" used by Terry Gilliam in the Monte Python show cartoon intro to crush people while making a farting sound. See it here at 0:24. The BBC owns the trademark.


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Here is what Wikipedia says about Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time

Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (also called An Allegory of Venus and Cupid and A Triumph of Venus) is an allegorical painting by the Florentine artist Agnolo Bronzino. It is now in the National Gallery, London.


About 1546, Bronzino was commissioned to create a painting that has come to be known as Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time. It displays the ambivalence, eroticism, and obscure imagery that are characteristic of the Mannerist period, and of Bronzino's master Pontormo.

The painting may have been commissioned by Cosimo I de' Medici, Grand Duke of Tuscany or by Francesco Salviati, to be presented by him as a gift to Francis I of France. Vasari wrote that it was sent to King Francis, though he does not specify by whom. The erotic imagery would have appealed to the tastes prevalent in both the Medici and French courts at this time. The attention to texture and wealth is also consistent with Bronzino's aristocratic patronage. The painting was brought by Napoleon from Paris to Vienna, where in 1813, Johann Keglević gained possession of the painting from Franz Wenzel, Graf von Kaunitz-Rietberg. Since 1860 it has been in London.

The figure of Venus can be likened to a precious object (such as a marble statue) in a luxurious setting, desirable because of her unavailability. In this large, unusually cold composition, which is deliberately constructed on a counterpoint of opposing movements, the finest work is in the treatment of the faces. Bronzino, known above all as a portrait painter, painted several carefully drawn portraits of the Medici family.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time.