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Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña, 'Venus and Two Cupids', 1847

Key facts
Full title Venus and Two Cupids
Artist Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña
Artist dates 1807 - 1876
Date made 1847
Medium and support Oil on canvas mounted on wood
Dimensions 33.7 × 20.6 cm
Inscription summary Signed; Dated
Acquisition credit Sir Hugh Lane Bequest, 1917, The National Gallery, London. In partnership with Hugh Lane Gallery, Dublin.
Inventory number NG3246
Location On loan: Long Loan to The Hugh Lane (2019 - 2031), Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane, Dublin, Ireland
Collection Main Collection
Venus and Two Cupids
Narcisse-Virgilio Diaz de la Peña

In a vaguely wooded setting a woman traditionally identified as Venus sits with two naked cupids pressing into her lap from either side. The whole is very rapidly and thickly painted. Venus’s skirt is painted in thick strokes of pinks and whites swirled together, with dashes of red-brown helping to shape the folds. Her face, which is deep in shadow, has been left unfinished. The legs of the cupid on the left are boldly outlined in the same dark red paint as that in Venus’s skirt.

The composition is related to a highly finished version of the same group, and forms part of Diaz’s extensive output of Venus-type figures, usually accompanied by children, which he produced from about 1846 to 1863. Despite their mythological subject matter, they were very influenced by Correggio’s depictions of the Virgin and Child. Such paintings were extremely popular with collectors.

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