The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Triumph of Venus

Object Details


The Triumph of Venus


Alessandro Magnasco (Italian, 1667 - 1749)




about 1720–1730


Oil on canvas

Object Number:



118.1 × 148.6 cm (46 1/2 × 58 1/2 in.)

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Object Description

This painting, and its pendant piece, Bacchanale (also in the Getty Museum collection), is dated to a period when the Genoese artist was in Milan, during which time he received numerous commissions from illustrious patrons. At the right, Venus, Roman goddess of love, rides in a processional chariot, assisted by blindfolded putti. Nymphs, satyrs, and other figures dance, run, blow trumpets, and lie in languid poses on the ground. By painting these figures with seemingly quick, sketchy brushstrokes Magnasco added further energy and movement to the uninhibited, dynamic scene.

Magnasco’s cultivated Milanese patrons appreciated these imagined mythological subjects. While the twisting, bounding figures were painted by Magnasco himself, the ancient ruins in the background were likely executed by Clemente Spera, a specialist in composing elaborate cappricci, or fictive architectural scenes. Magnasco and Spera frequently collaborated to create these fantastical scenes, and Spera’s death around 1730 provides a terminus ante quem for works such as this one. 

- about 1940

German Consul General (possibly Canada), possibly sold to The University Club of Toronto, about 1940.

about 1940 - 1977

The University Club of Toronto (Toronto, Canada), sold to Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. and Newhouse Galleries, 1977.

1977 - 1978

Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. (London, England; New York, New York) and Newhouse Galleries (London, England; New York, New York), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978.

An Exhibition of Paintings by Fetti and Masgnasco (November 16 to December 20, 1977)
  • Artemis Fine Arts Ltd. (London), November 16 to December 20, 1977
Kunst in der Republik Genua, 1528-1815 (September 5 to November 8, 1992)
  • Schirn Kunsthalle (Frankfurt), September 5 to November 8, 1992

An Exhibition of Paintings by Fetti and Magnasco, exh. cat. (London: Artemis Fine Arts, with David Carritt Ltd., 1977), unpaginated, no. 6, ill.

B. N. "Current and Forthcoming Exhibitions: Artemis." Burlington Magazine 119, no. 897 (December 1977), p. 873, fig. 71.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. Guidebook: The J. Paul Getty Museum. 4th ed. Sandra Morgan, ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1978), p. 89.

Newcome, Mary. "Rezensionen: Fausta Franchini Guelfi, Alessandro Magnasco." Kunstchronik 32, no. 4. (April 1979), pp. 148, 159, fig. 4.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), unpaginated, under no. 21, ill.

Fredericksen, Burton B., Jiří Frel, and Gillian Wilson. The J. Paul Getty Museum Guidebook. 5th ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1980), p. 82.

Fredericksen, Burton B. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. Rev. ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1988), unpaginated, under no. 14.

Newcome Schleier, Mary, et al., eds. Kunst in der Republik Genua, 1528-1815, exh. cat. (Frankfurt: Schirn Kunsthalle, 1992), p. 207, no. 113, fig. 114.

Muti, Laura, and Daniele de Sarno Prignano. Alessandro Magnasco (Ravenna: Edit Faenza, 1994), pp. 87-88, 168-69, 229, no. 168, pl. 28, pl. 29, fig. 93.

Camesasca, Ettore, and Marco Bona Castellotti, eds. Alessandro Magnasco 1667-1749, exh. cat. (Milan: Palazzo Reale, with Electa, 1996), p. 206, ill.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 79, ill.