Mars and Venus

Object Details


Mars and Venus


Abraham Bloemaert (Dutch, 1564 - 1651)




about 1592


Pen and brown ink, brown wash, white heightening over traces of black chalk


41.1 x 30.2 cm (16 3/16 x 11 7/8 in.)

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Under a lavish, tasseled canopy, the gods Mars and Venus make love on a bed surrounded by flying putti carrying decorative bunches of fruit. Mars, the god of war, has thrown down his elaborate shield and feathered helmet at the foot of the bed, while a putto plays with his sword. A fifth putto peers around the curtain to observe the adulterers.

Abraham Bloemaert used the body of Venus as the drawing's central feature. As she curves around Mars, her body forms a grand diagonal sweep that flows up through the drawing, leading the viewer's eye up to the top of the canopy. Bloemaert's deft handling of his materials and his technique give the scene immediacy and vigor. By varying the length and the curve of the same strokes of parallel hatching, he indicated both the lighting and the volume of the forms. The white bodycolor heightening adds to the sense of animation.

The high degree of finish suggests to scholars that Bloemaert made this drawing as a model for an engraving that was never completed or as a presentation sheet for a patron.

16th Century Northern European Drawings (February 18 to May 2, 1992)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), February 18 to May 2, 1992
The Power of Myth: European Mythological Drawings of the 15th through the 19th Century (October 12 to December 26, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), October 12 to December 26, 1993
Dutch Drawings of the 16th and 17th Centuries (August 16 to October 23, 1994)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), August 16 to October 23, 1994
Drawing the Classical Figure (December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), December 23, 2008 to March 8, 2009
Disegno: Drawing in Europe 1520-1600 (November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 13, 2012 to February 3, 2013