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Venus in front of the mirror - Diego Velazquez. 122,5x177
The presented work is the only painting by Diego Velazquez, which depicts a naked female figure. However, the royal collection had many similar works on mythological subjects, for example, Titian and other Renaissance artists. According to documents it is known that Velazquez painted several more similar paintings, but they have not been preserved.
Venus, the goddess of love, was the most beautiful goddess of the ancient world and was considered a personification of female beauty. The painter showed her with his son Cupid. He holds a mirror so that she can see both herself and the one who contemplates her. This device, one hundred years before Velazquez, was invented by Titian specifically for the image of the goddess (Venus with a Mirror, 1550s, National Gallery of Art, Washington), she is also represented with Cupid.
For the first time, the painting was mentioned in 1651 as being stored in the collection of the young son of the then Prime Minister of Spain, famous for his love of love and patronage of art. Subsequently, he became the Marquis del Carpio and Viceroy of Naples. This status allowed him to order such canvases, without fear of persecution of the Inquisition. In the house of the Marquis, work hung with a 16th-century Venetian painting depicting a naked nymph. In a word, “Venus in front of the mirror” remained unique in Spanish art until the appearance of “Mach Nude” by Francisco Goya, inspired by the masterpiece of Velazquez.
The painting "Venus in front of the mirror" has other names.
The work is known under the names "Toilet of Venus" and "Venus And Cupid." In 1906 it got to the National Gallery in London from the English estate of Roqueby - Park in the county of Yorkshire, so it got another name - Venus from Roqueby. Gallery specialists believe that Cupid and the face of Venus in the mirror were rewritten in the XVIII century.