Venus Seated in Her Sea Chariot Suckling Cupid

Object Details

Title:

Venus Seated in Her Sea Chariot Suckling Cupid

Artist/Maker(s):

Alessandro Algardi (Italian, 1598 - 1654)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1645

Medium:

Black chalk, partially pricked for transfer

Dimensions:

30.3 x 44.8 cm (11 15/16 x 17 5/8 in.)

See more

See less

Held up by a triton wearing a garland of seaweed at his waist, Cupid suckles at a woman's breast-probably that of Venus, the goddess born from the sea. Her scallop-shell chariot drawn by two dolphins is a common attribute, recalling her birth from the sea. In the background, Neptune, ruler of the sea, brandishes his trident and rides in a shell chariot drawn by two hippocamps (sea horses).

In this drawing, Alessandro Algardi combined idealization of the human body derived from classical sculpture with convincing, realistic representation based on close observation of the human form. His energetic use of chalk imbued the scene with movement and caught the effect of light, particularly in his modeling of Venus's soft skin and the tritons' muscular flesh.

Algardi most often made drawings in association with sculptural projects. As the master of the illusionistic pictorial relief during the Baroque era in Rome, he may have designed this arrangement of figures for a low-relief sculpture, possibly for execution in embossed metalwork. Either Algardi, an assistant, or a later artist pricked only the outlines of the main group for transfer to another surface. Only the main group may have been used, or the project may have been abandoned or altered on the right side.

Exhibitions
16th and 17th Century Italian Drawings (December 15, 1992 to February 28, 1993)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum, (Malibu), December 15, 1992 to February 28, 1993
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
Alessandro Algardi. Lo scultore e i suoi committenti nella Roma del Seicento (January 20 to April 30, 1999)
  • Palazzo delle Esposizioni, Comune di Roma, (Rome), January 20 to April 30, 1999
Visions of Grandeur: Drawing in the Baroque Age (June 1 to September 12, 2004)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), June 1 to September 12, 2004
Made for Manufacture: Drawings for Sculpture and the Decorative Arts (February 6 to May 20, 2007)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), February 6 to May 20, 2007
Gods and Heroes: European Drawings of Classical Mythology (November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center, (Los Angeles), November 19, 2013 to February 9, 2014