In this unserious art critique, we are going to analyze the painting, Cupid Chastised by Bartolomeo Manfredi.
Here in this painting, we see some drama going on. We see a woman, Venus, and a man, Mars, apparently spanking another grown man, Cupid.
Usually, Cupid is depicted as a baby with curly hair floating in the air. He may or may not wear his diapers while shooting people with an arrow. As violent as that sounds, Cupid is the god of love or attraction so his arrows make people fall in love. In this painting, he’s almost the opposite of that imagery.
Venus had an affair with well Cupid. In the heat of the moment, perhaps Mars saw Cupid and possibly yanked his wings down. His arrows are scattered on the floor. Mars brings out his rope and beats his bare bottom. If this was a modern-day painting, this imagery would look somewhat kinky. There’s a woman with one of her breasts out, then there’s a naked man blindfolded getting manhandled by another man holding a rope.
Think about it, Cupid doesn’t look like he is fighting back. His mouth is open but it sure doesn’t look like he is screaming. His hands are relaxed. They are not clenched with his muscles showing through. He looks vulnerable and limp than anything else.
Venus picking up the arrows on the floor while showing her breast is almost like the modern-day equivalent of someone hiding the belongings of the person they had an affair with once their partner returns home. If the partner asks why does the room smell like a particular cologne neither of them owns, easily distracts him or her with some nudity.
Venus exposes her right breast in hopes that maybe distracting him would do the trick. She is the goddess of love after all so it is bound to work right? Well no. Cupid’s bottom must be more appealing or at least the act of spanking someone.
In Roman Mythology, Venus and Mars are Cupid’s parents. So this kinky imagery turns into a somewhat sadomasochistic father and son bonding after an interesting mother and son bonding since Venus had an affair with her own son. In all, this domestic dispute would make a great Lifetime Movie Network film.
To conclude, this painting is beautiful with its stark contrast of light and dark; this is heavily influenced by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio's paintings. The figures are shown in great detail from the muscle of their bodies to the drapes of their clothing. Great Job, Bartolomeo.
“Cupid Chastised.” The Art Institute of Chicago, European Painting and Sculpture, www.artic.edu/artworks/59847/cupid-chastised.