Arts & Culture

Venus with Cupid Stealing Honey

Lucas Cranach the Elder1530

Statens Museum for Kunst
Statens Museum for Kunst

The scene is taken from literature, specifically the poem Cupid Stealing Honey by the classical Greek poet Theocritus.

The story behind the painting

The poem tells the story of how Cupid complains to his mother, Venus (the goddess of love), of how the bees sting him because he has stolen their hive. He wonders that creatures so small can inflict so much pain. Venus laughs and tells him that their stings can be compared to the wounds that he himself inflicts on all those hit by his arrows. The brief ecstasy of love may soon be replaced by suffering and heartbreak. A sign in the top left corner refers to Theocritus’ poem.

The painting's affiliation with Philipp Melanchton

Seen in the light of the fact that Cranach did illustrations for Luther’s version of the Bible and was closely associated with the inner circle of the Reformation, it is interesting that the poem was published in the name of Philipp Melanchton. Melanchton devised his own version of the teachings of Luther and founded Philippism, a movement that came to be of great importance in Denmark.

The painting was in 1759 transferred from the Kunstkammer at Gottorp Castle to the Royal Collection together with other works, making it the largest Cranach collection outside German-speaking countries.

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Details

  • Titel: Venus with Cupid Stealing Honey
  • Maker: Lucas Cranach the Elder
  • Aanmaakdatum: 1530
  • Værktekst: Motivets litterære kilde er digtet Honningtyven af den antikke græske digter Theokrit. Historien bag maleriet Det handler om, at Cupido (Amor) beklager sig til sin mor, Venus (kærlighedens gudinde) over, at bierne stikker ham, fordi han har stjålet deres bo. Han undrer sig over, at så små væsner kan påføre ham så megen smerte. Venus ler og forklarer ham, at virkningen kan sammenlignes med de sår, som han selv påfører alle dem, som rammes af hans pile. Forelskelsens korte glædesrus kan hurtigt afløses af ravage og hjertekvaler. På et skilt i maleriets øverste venstre hjørne er der en henvisning til Theokrits digt. Ordlyden gengiver ikke Theokrits græske tekst, men derimod et latinsk epigram baseret på digtet. Værkets forbindelse til Philipp Melanchton Set i lyset af, at Cranach udførte illustrationer til Luthers bibeloversættelse og i det hele taget var tæt knyttet til reformatorernes inderkreds, er det interessant, at digtet blev udgivet i Philipp Melanchtons navn. Melanchton formulerede sin egen version af Martin Luthers lære og grundlagde filippismen, som fik stor betydning i Danmark. Maleriet blev i 1759 sammen med andre malerier overflyttet fra Gottorp Slot til de kongelige samlinger, hvorfor museet kan præsentere den største samling Cranach-malerier uden for tysktalende lande.
  • Teknik: Olie på træ
  • Proveniens: Overdraget fra Gottorp Slot 1759
  • Provenance: Acquired 1759
  • Fysieke afmetingen: w38 x h58 cm (Without frame)
  • Dansk link: http://www.smk.dk/index.php?id=1125
  • Dansk Titel: Venus og Cupido som honningtyv
  • Type: Painting
  • Rechten: Statens Museum for Kunst, http://www.smk.dk/en/copyright/creative-commons/
  • Externe link: Statens Museum for Kunst
  • Materiaal: Oil on panel

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