(Italian, c. 1486–1527)
Support: Cream(3) laid paper
Sheet: 26.1 x 16.8 cm (10 1/4 x 6 5/8 in.)
Dudley P. Allen Fund 1930.581
Catalogue raisonné: Bartsch XIV.241.321 (as Marc. Raimondi, XIV.241) Le B.II.111.18; Ottley II.261
The story featured here has been used to explain why some roses are red: they were stained with the blood of Venus after she pricked herself while walking in the forest.
This composition alludes to The Lament for Adonis by the Greek poet Bion (active about 100 BCE). In the poem, Venus, distraught by the death of her lover Adonis, wanders barefoot in the woods and is wounded by brambles. Although Bion implores Venus to “weep no longer in the thickets,” the poem does not describe the moment depicted here when she plucks a thorn from her foot, imaginatively conceived as a vehicle to present a classical female nude. The wide-eyed hare near Venus is an ancient symbol of fertility and sexual desire.
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