Mars and Venus United by Love

Artist: Paolo Veronese (Paolo Caliari) (Italian, Verona 1528–1588 Venice)

Date: 1570s

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 81 x 63 3/8 in. (205.7 x 161 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: John Stewart Kennedy Fund, 1910

Accession Number: 10.189


Cupid binds Mars (the god of war) to Venus with a love knot. Visually opulent and sensual, the picture also operates as an allegory 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 one of the greatest masters of light and color, and his work had an enduring impact on later artists including Velázquez and Giambattista Tiepolo.