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Lucas Cranach the Elder: 'Cupid complaining to Venus'

Cupid complains to Venus of being stung by bees when stealing a honeycomb. This is to be taken as a moral commentary; as the inscription observes: 'life's pleasure is mixed with pain.'

The subject derives (but the last two lines of the inscription do not) from Theocritus' 'Idyll' 19 (The Honeycomb Stealer). Two Latin translations of 1522 and 1528 by German scholars are known. Johann Hess, a humanist, made, in his copy of one of them, the manuscript note 'Tabella Luce', which means 'Picture by Lucus', perhaps referring to this work by Cranach.

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From The National Gallery Podcast: Episode Four, February 2007


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