Marco Dente (Italian, active by 1515–died 1527), after Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio or Santi) (Italian, Marchigian, 1483–1520) or Giulio Romano (Italian, Roman, ca. 1499–1546)
Engraving; first state
sheet 10 1/4 x 6 13/16 in. (26 x 17.3 cm)
Bequest of Grace M. Pugh, 1985 (1986.1180.213)
This engraving is based on a preparatory drawing for one of the frescoes of Venus that adorned the stufetta (bathroom) of Cardinal Bibbiena in the Vatican Palace. According to the Greek bucolic poet Bion (ca. 100 B.C.), the goddess, devastated by the death of her lover Adonis, ran through the woods without her sandals and was pricked by thorns, which "culled her sacred blood." This description inspired a passage in the Hypnerotomachia Poliphili, which describes Cupid gathering his mother's blood to tint the roses red.