VenusVenus was the Roman goddess of love (Aphrodite in ancient Greece) and the mother of Cupid, who is often included in paintings of Venus, together with the doves which are her attribute. Another attribute is the red rose, which became red because it was stained with Venus' blood when she stepped on a thorn. According to Hesiod ('Theogony'), Venus was born from the foam of the sea and carried to land on a scallop shell, as in Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' in the Uffizi, Florence.
Venus' numerous loves are recounted in many classical texts, in particular Ovid's 'Metamorphoses', which provided source material for painters.
The National Gallery, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 5DN