In the Galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago hangs an incredible painting by the 16th Century Italian, Baroque artist Bartolomeo Manfredi. The name of the piece is “Cupid Chastised”.
This painting depicts Mars (the god of war) striking Cupid with a whip when Venus (the goddess of like) crouched to the side attempts to cease Mars from his assault on the young Cupid. The scene shows Mars dressed in Roman garb with a striking red toga, Venus in a stola, and cupid naked with quiver, bow, and arrows.
When you 1st appear at this piece you are taken by the outstanding artistry of the perform. The scene is incredibly dramatic with Mars thrusting Cupid down prepared to strike when Venus is off to the side in shock attempting to avoid Mars from striking. The colors, composition, and facial expression are all incredibly fine and reveal an intriguing story. The painting was initially believed to be a Caravaggio and with excellent purpose for the excellent execution of chiaroscuro considerably intensifies the drama in the scene.
Upon viewing this perform of art 1 may well assume that it is standard Classical Mythology with Mars chastising cupid for his entanglement with himself and Venus. Nevertheless this is not the case at all, what we have right here is 1 of the most intense scenes of homo-eroticism in European Art!
Though I was a student at the College of the Art Institute of Chicago I had the privilege to take a course of European Painting by the legendary professor Robert J. Loescher. In 1 of our walks via the galleries of the Art Institute professor Loescher stopped the class ahead of this popular painting and asked us to respond to it. When we completed our responses (which had been all missing the point) he then explained the perform of art to us.
Roman mythology is the car applied by Manfredi to provide his genuine message which is Homo-Erotic Sadomasochism. As a gay man Manfredi typically expressed his sexuality in his operates and this is the case in point right here with Cupid Chastised. What we have right here is Cupid depicted as a young male (a smooth hairless youth or “twink” in gay slang, not an innocent winged infant) getting sexual gratification from Mars’ strikes! Cupid’s ass situated dead center is clearly the focal point of this painting as he awaits Mars’ strikes with the ropes. If you appear at Cupid’s wrist it is limp (passively submitting to Mars) not clenched as it would be in a struggle and when blind folded his mouth is open displaying him in a state of total ecstasy. Each male figures are handsome, dominant, and beautifully rendered. Whereas Venus, shoved off to the side, with her breast hanging out (a ploy to satisfy straight viewers) is rather homely searching, not substantially to say for the goddess of like!
Actually this virile male to male intense sexual interaction leaves all of us to reflect on our personal sexual persona. As the saying goes “Do not judge a book by its cover”, even so, take a second appear!