About this artwork
John Deare, one of the finest British sculptors of the late 1700s, was also a superb draftsman. Venus and Cupid is a highly finished study for a relief sculpture of the same subject (now lost). Consistent with his profession, Deare’s drawing technique is characterized by severe linearity, minimal shading, and a frieze-like arrangement of figures, as though the whole were carved from a block of stone.
Cupid holds an outsize butterfly, an allusion to his wedding to Psyche. In Neoplatonic philosophy, the butterfly signifies the immortality of the soul. Gazing intensely into Cupid’s eyes, Venus expresses maternal affection while at the same time registering an erotic charge.
- Currently Off View
- Prints and Drawings
- John Deare
- Venus and Cupid
- Pen and black ink on cream laid paper
- Signed, dated, and inscribed, lower right, in pen and black ink: “J. Deare - June . 1789 – Rome”
- 276 × 304 mm
- Harry B. and Bessie K. Braude Memorial Fund