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Allegory with Venus and Cupid - Agnolo Bronzino. Between 1540-1550
Bronzino served as a court painter at Cosimo I, Grand Duke of Tuscany. The painting, painted around 1540-1550, is a masterpiece of diversity and intrigue, since here male and female figures of all ages are placed in a shallow perspective throughout the canvas, which makes the eye zigzag to move from one part of the composition to another. Together, these figures form an allegory dedicated to the destructive power of love.
In the center, a naked Venus clutching a golden apple in her left hand - the reward that caused the Trojan War; with her right hand she disarms Cupid, who is erotically hugging her and nearly crushing the dove of the world with her right foot. On the right, a playful little boy is about to shower them with pink petals, not noticing that he is walking on thorns, one of which has already pierced his right foot. Behind him, a beautiful girl holds out a honeycomb, but her generous gesture is a hoax, as she holds the sting of her snake tail in the other hand.
In the background, the Elder-Time, which is watched by a masked figure, carries his hourglass on his back and tries to either hide this group of figures or to reveal the harmful forces hidden in them in front of the viewer; and on the left, the man clasped his head in his hands and groans in pain, tormented by madness.
Cheating. In the allegorical picture, Bronzino Deception, or Cheating, appears in the guise of a beautiful young girl, the lower body of a reptile and the legs of a lion. Deception can also be portrayed in painting with a mask - for example, in the form of an old woman who put on the guise of a young girl.
Stupidity. In the Middle Ages, jesters were recognized "fools" under monarchs and nobles. In the painting by Giotto Stupidity (c. 1310) she is depicted as a fat young man in a crown of feathers and a torn tunic holding a club. In Bronzino, Stupidity is personified by a smiling boy with bells around his ankles, like a jester who is about to shower Venus with petals. The book of satirical poems The ship of fools (1494) by the German poet Sebastian Brant (1458-1521) describes how a bunch of all kinds of fools sets sail for the Country of Fools without a pilot and maps. This satire on human sinfulness and stupidity has become the subject of many allegorical works, including the Bosch Ship of Fools (c. 1495).