Venus Teaching Cupid to Shoot with the Bow
  • Material: Sardonyx Shell, 18k gold tested.
  • Size: brooch 2 6/8" by 2 2/8" only cameo is 2 1/2" by 2".
  • Date and Origin: Circa 1840 Italy.
  • Conditions: Excellent. Some internal lines in the shell, NOT STRESS, visible when cameo is backlit, barely visible from the front when looking at the cameo by naked eye. NOTE!!! Pictures are strongly enlarged and this is why the lines are clearly visible.
A fantastic More than Museum Quality cameo depicting a more than rare subject, Venus teaching Cupid to use the bow. This is after a drawing by John Gibson (1790 - 1866) titled "O lend me now the succour of thine arm" drawn probably in 1851 and made for the book by Elizabeth Strutt, The story of Psyche..., [London?], [1851?], [plate for Canto I]. The Gibson drawing is now in the Royal Academy of Arts in London.  No words are necessary to speak about the beauty of this cameo. Look at the perfection of Venus and Cupid bodies, they appear as sculpted. The proportions are perfect. Look at the right Venus' arm, you can see that the carver has evidenced the tension of the shoulder muscle. She is indicating a point to Cupid, look at the elegance of her hand, perfect. Look then at her perfect and full breast, it is an artwork itself. With the left hand she is lifting up Cupid arm to put the bow in the right position. Her flowing robe that leaves the bust nude is perfectly folded and follow the curves of a perfect and sensual body. Cupid too is wonderfully carved, his young body and his muscles are evidenced and even him seems a sculpture. His wings are marvellous. Have you looked at the feet of both figures? Simply amazing. This is a real work of art. From all those perfect details you can understand the skill of the carver. You can feel, looking at this scene, the love of a mother for her child, a mother who wants to teach something of useful to his child so that him can grow knowing how to do when he needs to use the bow.  Love is love, and can clearly seen and felt in this cameos. The rich and elaborated Etruscan style frame is just the right complement for this outstanding cameo.  A fantastic and unique cameo to not to be missed.
A bit of history:
Venus was a major Roman goddess principally associated with love, beauty and fertility, the equivalent of the Greek goddess Aphrodite. Venus was the consort of Vulcan. She was considered the ancestor of the Roman people by way of its legendary founder, Aeneas, and played a key role in many Roman religious festivals and myths. Venus had no childhood: in every image and each reference she is born adult, nubile, and infinitely desirable. Venus, in many of the late anecdotal myths involving her, is characterized as vain, ill-tempered and easily offended. Though she is one of the few gods of the Greek Pantheon to be actually married, she is frequently unfaithful to her husband. Hephaestus is one of the most even-tempered of the Hellenic deities; in the narrative embedded in the Odyssey Venus seems to prefer Ares, the volatile god of war. She is one of a few characters who played a major part in the original cause of the Trojan War itself: not only did she offer Helen of Sparta to Paris, but the abduction was accomplished when Paris, seeing Helen for the first time, was inflamed with desire to have her—which is Venus' realm. Due to her immense beauty Zeus was frightened that she would be the cause of violence between the other gods. He married her off to Hephaestus, the dour, humourless god of smithing.  Her unhappiness with her marriage caused Aphrodite to seek out companionship from others, most frequently Ares, but also Adonis. Cupid or Eros was son of Venus.