Venus Reclining on a Sea Monster with Cupid and a Putto

Object Details

Title:

Venus Reclining on a Sea Monster with Cupid and a Putto

Artist/Maker(s):

John Deare (English, 1759 - 1798)

Culture:

British

Place(s):

Great Britain (Place created)

Date:

1787/88 - 1790

Medium:

Marble

Dimensions:

33.7 x 58.4 x 11.2 cm (13 1/4 x 23 x 4 7/16 in.)

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Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, reclines on a fantastic goat-headed sea monster in this allegory of Lust. The goddess entwines her fingers in the creature's beard–a so-called "chin-chucking" gesture that represents erotic intent–while the monster licks her hand in response. Cupid, astride the monster's long tail, is poised to shoot an arrow at Venus, while in the background a putti adds to the amorous imagery by holding a flaming torch, undoubtedly meant to suggest the burning ardor of desire. The sea goat carries Venus through the frothy waves, carved with energy and precision.

John Deare displayed his great skill in carving a variety of levels and textures in this sculpture, from the low relief of the Cupid and putti to the smooth, half-relief of Venus, and finally to the sea-goat's fully three-dimensional snout and wavy strands of hair. Deare's depiction of Lust as a woman riding a goat forms part of an iconographic tradition that has been popular since the Middle Ages.

Exhibitions
Rome on the Grand Tour (January 8 to August 11, 2002)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), January 8 to August 11, 2002
Neoclassical Sculpture (January 28 to June 1, 2008) (7)
  • Tate Britain, (London), January 28 to June 8, 2008
L'Antiquité rêvée: innovations et résistances au XVIIIe siècle (December 2, 2010 to May 30, 2011) (7)
  • Musée du Louvre, (Paris), December 2, 2010 to February 14, 2011
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, March 20 to May 30, 2011
Bibliography

Gunnis, Rupert. Dictionary of British Sculptors, 1660-1851 (London: The Abbey Library, 1968), p. 124.

Fogelman, Peggy, Fusco, Peter, and Simon Stock. "John Deare (1759-1798): a British Neo-classical Sculptor in Rome." The Sculpture Journal 4 (2000), pp. 94-96, 112, no. 18, figs. 17-18.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), pp. 234, 271, ill.

Trusted, Marjorie, ed. The return of the gods: neoclassical sculpture in Britain, exh. cat. (London: Tate Britain, with Tate Publishing, 2008), p. 24, no. 7, ill., entry by Marjorie Trusted.

Roscoe, Ingrid and Emma Hardy, eds. A biographical dictionary of sculptors in Britain, 1660-1851 (London: Yale University Press, 2009), p. 352, under no. 29, listed as Venus reclining on a sea monster with Cupid and a putto (Marine Venus).

Faroult, Guillaume, et al. L'Antiquité rêvée: innovations et résistances au XVIIIe siècle, exh. cat. (Paris: Musée du Louvre, with Gallimard, 2010), pp. 324-25, no. 102, ill., entry by Guilhem Scherf.

Faroult, Guillaume, et al., eds. Antiquity Revived: Neoclassical Art in the Eighteenth Century, exh. cat. (Houston: Museum of Fine Arts, with Musée du Louvre and Gallimard, 2011), p. 129, no. 66, ill., entry by Guilhem Scherf.

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