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Cupid Chastised

Large painting of cupid being whipped, a woman tries to hold back the a man in red dress.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • Large painting of cupid being whipped, a woman tries to hold back the a man in red dress.




Bartolomeo Manfredi
Italian, 1582-1622

About this artwork

Following the example of the revolutionary early seventeenth-century artist Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, Bartolomeo Manfredi chose to depict ordinary individuals in his scenes from the Bible and Greek and Roman mythology. Caravaggio had demonstrated to Manfredi and an entire generation of European artists that such lofty themes could be transformed into events experienced by ordinary people. Employing dramatic lighting and locating the action directly before the viewer, these artists were able to endow their narratives with great immediacy and power.

Cupid Chastised depicts a moment of high drama: Mars, the god of war, beats Cupid for having caused his affair with Venus, the goddess of love, which exposed him to the derision and outrage of the other gods. Venus implores him in vain to desist. Surrounded by darkness, the three figures are boldly illuminated from the left, intensifying the dynamism and impact of the composition. The sheer physicality of the figures — the crouching Venus, whose broadly realized face strays from the classical ideal; the powerful Mars, whose musculature and brilliant red drapery seem to pulsate with fury; and Cupid, whose naked flesh and recumbent position render him particularly vulnerable—conveys the violent discord of the scene. On one level a tale of domestic disturbance, the story also symbolizes the eternal conflict between love and war.


On View, Gallery 211


Painting and Sculpture of Europe


Bartolomeo Manfredi


Cupid Chastised


Italy (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.



Oil on canvas


175.3 × 130.6 cm (69 × 51 3/8 in.)

Credit Line

Charles H. and Mary F. S. Worcester Collection

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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