The J. Paul Getty Museum

Venus and Mars

Object Details


Venus and Mars


Palma il Giovane (Italian (Venetian), 1544 - 1628)




about 1605–1609


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



142.9 × 205.4 cm (56 1/4 × 80 7/8 in.)

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Object Description

Venus twists on the bed in a curved yet inviting pose, and Mars extends his limbs below, with a putto aiding him to disrobe. The bodies of these mythological lovers respond to each other in their similar anticipatory gestures, creating a dynamic experience of space. The composition's bold diagonal, from the maidservant airing the bedclothes at the top left to Mars's armor at the bottom right, further enhances the scene's sense of drama and spatial depth.

Palma Il Giovane perpetuated many elements of Tintoretto's style, such as the sexual magnetism that galvanizes this entire canvas. Palma painted few mythological subjects, probably for a small circle of his intellectual friends. The poet Giambattista Marino spent time in Venice from 1606 to 1607, and Palma may have painted this canvas for him.

about 1606 - possibly 1607

Giambattista Marino, 1569 - 1625 (Venice, Italy)
Source: Ridolfi, "Le Maraviglie dell'arte" or "Le Vite degli Illustri Pittori Veneti..." (1648; repr., Rome, 1965), p. 202, no. 1-2.

possibly by 1619

Possibly Gian Carlo Doria, 1576 - 1625 (Genoa, Italy)
Source: Letter by Doria published by Guglielminetti, "Marino, Lettere" (Torino, 1966), p. 230.


Unknown [sold, Braunschweig, Germany.]
Source: Provence Index: Sales Catalogs Database, catalog D-A15.

- 1971

George Staudt (Essen, West Germany), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1971.

Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum (February 26 to March 30, 1973)
  • California State University (Northridge), February 26 to March 30, 1973
Paintings on Loan to the Bowers Museum from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 8 to September 17, 1979)
  • Bowers Museum (Santa Ana), January 8 to September 17, 1979
L'Età di Rubens: Dimore, committenti e collezionisti genovesi (March 20 to July 11, 2004)
  • Palazzo Ducale (Genova), March 20 to July 11, 2004

Ridolfi, Carlo. Le Maraviglie dell'Arte. 2 vols. Detlev Freiherrn von Hadeln, ed. (Venice: 1648; repr., Rome: Società multigrafica editrice SOMU, 1965), vol. 2, p. 202, no. 1-2.

Baroque Masters from the J. Paul Getty Museum, exh. cat. (Northridge: California State University, 1973), p. 23, no. 30, ill.

Rinaldi, Stefania Mason. "Una Monografia su Jacopo Palma il Giovane." Arte Veneta 34 (1980), pp. 243-44, ill.

Mason Rinaldi, Stefania. Palma il Giovane: L'opera completa (Milan: Alfieri, Gruppo Editoriale Electa, 1984), pp. 91, 352, no. 141, fig. 408.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 94, ill.

Barnes, Susan J., et al., eds. Van Dyck a Genova: Grande pittura e collezionismo, exh. cat. (Milan: Electa, 1997), pp. 38, 39, 57n32, fig. 14.

Boccardo, Piero, ed. L'Età di Rubens: Dimore, committenti e collezionisti genovesi, exh. cat. (Genoa: Palazzo Ducale, with Skira Editore, 2004), p. 195, no. 590; pp. 228-29, no. 38, ill., provenance by Piero Bocardo, entry by Gianluca Zanelli.