Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus (1788)

Reynolds, Joshua (1723-1792)

Cupid Untying the Zone of Venus
Oil on canvas, 127.5 x 101 cm
Hermitage MuseumSaint Petersburg

This is an autograph version of Reynolds‘s famous picture of 1784, painted for Lord Carysfort (now Tate Gallery, London). Carysfort, who visited Russia on a number of occasions, asked the artist to make the copy as a gift for Prince Grigory Potyomkin. In this work of charming but sensuous intimacy – Reynolds originally suggested it should be called “Half Consenting” – the goddess of beauty and love, Venus, is a coquettish young woman, hiding her face from immodest glances with her arm. Mischievous Cupid is pulling at the end of the blue silk ribbon which encircles her waist, looking attentively up at his mother to watch her reaction. It is possible that the model for the original painting was Emma, Lady Hamilton, famous as the mistress of Lord Nelson. (SHM)


Reynolds, Joshua (1723-1792)
A Nymph and Cupid: ‘The Snake in the Grass’
exhibited 1784
Tate BritainLondon