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.