Venus and Mars

Object Details


Venus and Mars


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




about 1605 - 1609


Oil on canvas


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

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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..." (1965 edition, Rome), 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: Getty Provenance databases.

- 1971

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

L'Età di Rubens: Dimore, committenti e collezionisti genovesi (March 20 to July 11, 2004)
  • Palazzo Ducale (Genova), March 20 to July 11, 2004

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

Rinaldi, Stefania Mason. "Una Monographia su Jacopo Palma il Giovane' (review of 'Palma il Giovane' by Nicola Ivanoff and Pietro Zampetti). Arte Veneta, vol. 34. (1980), p. 244, ill. p. 243.

Mason Rinaldi, Stefania. Palma il Giovane: L'opera completa (Milan: Alfieri, Gruppo Editoriale Electa, 1984), p. 91 no. 141, p. 352 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, 57n32, fig. 14.

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