Venere adornata dalle Grazie (c.1590-1595)

Carracci, Annibale (1560-1609)

Venere adornata dalle Grazie (Venus Adorned by the Graces)
Oil on panel transferred to canvas, 133 x 170.5 cm
National Gallery of ArtWashington

In the left half of this horizontal painting, a bare-chested, seated woman, Venus, is tended by three nude women and several child-like, nude, winged putti. All the women and putti have pale, peachy skin. To our right, a statue of a man stands on an ornately carved pedestal on a veranda in front of a distant landscape. Venus sits facing our right and she looks into a rectangular, black-framed mirror she holds up with her left hand. Her blond hair is braided and she has delicate features. A sky-blue cloth wraps around her waist and lap, and covers her legs. One foot rests on the lap of a seated putto, who ties on a sandal. Another putto helps hold up the mirror. A third putto near us, in front of Venus, pulls strings of pearls from a gold box and the fourth, in the lower left corner, lifts a comb and long needle out of a gilded, rectangular box. Two of the women behind Venus tend to her hair and the third holds up and gazes at a teardrop-shaped pearl. A dusky rose-pink curtain falls behind the women and putti. The view opens onto a terrace on the right half of the painting. A gray stone sculpture of a nude man holding up a bunch of grapes with one hand and bracing a tall stick with the other stands facing our left on an ornately carved base. The base is made up of a wide, shallow bowl above a single pedestal foot. In the distance, two people sit against a tall balustrade. The person on the left wears gold-colored armor, a helmet, and holds a long spear. The bearded man to the right appears to be nude as he leans to the side toward his companion, resting his hand and chin along a staff propped on the bench’s seat. Trees and mountains in the landscape beyond are painted with brown, deep gray, and forest and sage green. A sliver of white sky along the horizon brightens an otherwise steel-gray sky. (NGA)