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Love, love, love…

February 14, 2013

What painting would you choose to illustrate word love? I don’t think that it’s an easy question. Love has so many forms and manifestations, yet it’s something rather abstract – a feeling that has  myriads of “colours”.

I have spent several days looking at Art history books. I started with the modern Art, but had to go back right to the 15th century, before I was sure that I managed to find a painting that could be called Love. I read more about the portrayed subjects and the hidden symbols and, I have to admit, I am really happy with my choice.

A painting that could illustrate word love – Sandro Botticelli “Venus and Mars” (about 1485).

Venus and Mars, image found on

Venus and Mars, image found on

The original painting can be seen in The National Gallery, London, but you can explore it really well online – please click here.

Mars, God of War, was one of the lovers of Venus, Goddess of Love. Here Mars is asleep and unarmed, while Venus is awake and alert. The meaning of the picture is that love conquers war, or love conquers all.

A swarm of wasps next to the God's head

A swarm of wasps next to the God’s head

This work was probably a piece of bedroom furniture, perhaps a bedhead or piece of wainscoting, most probably the ‘spalliera’ or backboard from a chest or day bed. The wasps (‘vespe’ in Italian) at the top right suggest a link with the Vespucci family, though they may be no more than a symbol of the stings of love.

Satyrs have stolen Mars' armor

Satyrs have stolen Mars’ armor

Mars is sleeping the ‘little death’ which comes after making love, and not even a trumpet in his ear will wake him. The little satyrs have stolen his lance – a joke to show that he is now disarmed.

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Information for this post was found on the National Gallery website.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. February 15, 2013 12:45 pm

    Hi, the LIKE function on some WordPress sites seems to block on me, so consider this a LIKE!

  2. February 16, 2013 4:56 pm

    What a great choice! I *love* that painting!

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