Guide Cupids Folly

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Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time (also called An Allegory of Venus and Cupid and A Triumph of Venus) is an allegorical painting by the Florentine artist Agnolo.
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The rest of the figures are a kind of cool, gray-white. But the other figures aren't. They all seem to express an idea to stand for something. Well, that's why this must be a kind of visual poetry. Or a pun, or a riddle. We know that the Court of Cosimo de' Medici loved that. We think that this was likely a present from Cosimo de' Medici to King Francis I of France, a great art collector and patron. Okay, so we've established that we have no idea what this painting is about, but let's spend a moment really looking at the painting carefully, and describing what we do understand.

We know this is Venus, in part, because she's a nude female, front and center. But also by the fact that she holds in her left hand, a golden apple. This was a prize that she had won from Paris, that is a part of the great Ancient Greek myth of the Trojan War. In her right hand, she holds an arrow that she's stolen from Cupid, as though disarming him, a subject that we often see in Art History.

Allegorical paintings

These are typical traits. These are two figures that are easy to identify. Although, I've never seen them shown embracing like this. If you follow the zig-zag of Cupid's body, you end at his foot. Just below that, in the very corner of the painting, is a Dove, which is another attribute or symbol of Venus.

Now, you used the word "zig-zag" for Cupid's body. I think that's also a term that we could use for Venus' body.

Scholarly debate

We go from her right hand, holding that [quiver], across her shoulder, down her torso, and then across her legs. Maybe that's a metaphor for this whole painting, this zig-zagging, this back-and-forth of what does this mean, and how do these things relate to each other?

Bronzino, An Allegory with Venus and Cupid (video) | Khan Academy

Oppositions that construct this painting, if we follow that zig-zag down Venus' body, and we move across the legs to the bottom right corner of the painting, we find two masks. We have no idea what they're there for. But masks generally refer to deception, a kind of hiding.

Just above the masks, we see another nude figure, a young child, who seems as if he's about to throw blossoms on the couple. Art historians have speculated that this figure represents pleasure or folly. Well he looks incredibly mischievous, doesn't it? He has bells on his left ankle. More troubling, just behind him is the head of a girl, but on the body of a serpent, with the legs of a lion, and with the tail of a scorpion.

Bronzino, An Allegory with Venus and Cupid

Her face is in shadow. In her right hand, she holds a honeycomb. Her left hand, which is illuminated, tilts back away from us in this way that looks almost anatomically distorted. She seems to hold her tail that has, at the tip of it, a stinger.


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So, on the one hand, she's holding a honeycomb, which is a traditional symbol of pleasure, and of course But then, there's the price. Then, above this, a figure who seems to be Father Time, or Cronus in ancient mythology. He's identifiable by the hourglass that's on his back. You can actually see that there is sand pouring through that hourglass, if you look very closely.

You can also just make out a wing that's coming out from his body. He helps to frame the upper part of this canvas.

The Foot of Cupid

At the bottom, Venus' legs. Then, at the top, his arm. I'm interested in the way that his right hand is bent around, so that we see the back of his hand very much like the young girl serpent. It's hard to tell what he's doing with that hand. This article needs additional citations for verification. Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources.

Switched at Birth - 1x22 Promo - "Venus, Cupid, Folly and Time"

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