The story of Venus' birth is described in Hesiod's 'Theogony' and in the 'Homeric Hymns'. In the centre, Venus steps from her shell on to the island of Cyprus (or Cythera). In the rim around the central group are Neptune and Amphitrite at the top and Cupid and Psyche at the bottom.

This design was probably a modello for a silver basin. Such prestigous objects were displayed on a side table to signal the wealth of the owner.

Key facts

Artist
Artist dates
1577 - 1640
Full title
The Birth of Venus
Date made
about 1632-3
Medium and support
Black chalk and oil on oak
Dimensions
61 x 78 cm
Acquisition credit
Bought, 1885
Inventory number
NG1195
Location in Gallery