Cupid carving his bow

(1535; Vienna, Kunsthistorisches Museum)
   Painted by Parmigianino, the work is categorized as homoerotic for the sensual rendition of Cupid as a fleshy young nude boy. The god of love has steadied himself for the task of carving by resting his left foot on some books, his disheveled hair curled, betraying the effort he is exerting. The books are there to denote that love conquers all, even reason—a symbolic element made more poignant by Cupid's turn of the head toward the viewer and cautionary glance. Between Cupid's legs are two struggling putti. One forcefully grabs the other's right hand and moves it toward Cupid's right leg as he smiles at the viewer. The other putto resists as he is reluctant to fall in love and lose his ability to reason. This theme would become quite popular in the Baroque era, especially among the Caravaggists.
   See also Amor vincit omnia.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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