Cupid binds Mars (the god of war) to Venus with a love knot. The picture operates on a number of allegorical levels and celebrates the civilizing and nurturing effects of love (milk flows from Venus's breast and Mars's horse is restrained). By 1621 it was owned by Emperor Rudolf II, in Prague, along with three other mythological works by the artist (two of these are in the Frick Collection, New York), but its original owner is unknown. These are among Veronese's greatest works, done when at the height of his powers. Veronese was among the greatest masters of light and color, and his work had an enduring impact on later artists, from Annibale Carracci and Velázquez to Tiepolo.
Provenance：Rudolph II, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (until d. 1612; ?invs., 1621, no. 1151; ca. 1648, no. 450); his brother, Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (1612–d. 1619); his cousin, Ferdinand II, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (1619–d. 1637); his son, Ferdinand III, Holy Roman Emperor, Prague (1637–48; seized by Swedish troops); Christina, Queen of Sweden, Stockholm, later Rome (1648–d. 1689; abdicated 1654; invs., ?1652, no. 79 or no. 88; ca. 1689, unnumbered); Cardinal Decio Azzolino, Rome (d. 1689); his nephew, marchese Pompeo Azzolino, Rome (1689–96; sold to Odescalchi); principe Livio Odescalchi, duca di Bracciano, Rome (1696–d. 1713); marchese Baldassare Odescalchi-Erba, later principe Odescalchi, Rome (1713–21; inv., 1721, no. 39; sold to Orléans); Philippe II, duc d'Orléans, Palais Royal, Paris (1721–d. 1723); ducs d'Orléans, Palais Royal (1723–85); Louis Philippe Joseph, duc d'Orléans, Palais Royal (1785–92; sold to Walckiers); vicomte Edouard de Walckiers, Brussels (1792; sold to Laborde); his cousin, François de Laborde-Méréville, Paris, later London (1792–98; consigned to Jeremiah Harman; sold to consortium of Bridgewater, Carlisle, and Leveson-Gower); Francis Egerton, 3rd Duke of Bridgewater, Frederick Howard, 5th Earl of Carlisle, and George Granville Leveson-Gower, later 1st Duke of Sutherland, London (1798; exhibited for sale, the Lyceum, the Strand, London, December 26, 1798ff., no. 273, for 300 gns. to Elwyn); Hastings Elwyn, Booten, Norfolk (1799–1806; his sale, Phillips, London, May 23, 1806, no. 23); Campbell, London (until 1866; sold to Wimborne); Sir Ivor Bertie Guest, 2nd Bt., later 1st Baron Wimborne, Canford Manor, Wimborne, Dorset (1866–1903; cat., 1888, no. 31; sale, Christie's, London, May 23, 1903, no. 75, for £6,300); [Lepper]; [Asher Wertheimer, London, 1909–10; sold through Blakeslee to MMA]