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Venus and Cupid

A work made of pen and black ink on cream laid paper.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of pen and black ink on cream laid paper.




John Deare
English, 1759-1798

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 in the Cliffe Castle Museum in Yorkshire). 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.


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Prints and Drawings


John Deare


Venus and Cupid


England (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.



Pen and black ink on cream laid paper


Signed, dated, and inscribed, lower right, in pen and black ink: “J. Deare - June . 1789 – Rome”


27.6 × 30.4 cm (10 7/8 × 12 in.)

Credit Line

The Harry B. and Bessie K. Braude Memorial Endowment Fund

Reference Number


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