Giovanni Luteri, known as Dosso Dossi
Tramuschio (?), around 1486 – Ferrara, around 1542

The Reawakening of Venus

Oil on canvas, 120 x 157 cm (47 x 62 inches)


«From the bosom of Thetis discolouring the stars
The Apollonian flame has already risen:
And on the morrow, freed from the harsh embrace
Of the old groom, on the soft feathers
Venus still lies»

(Stazio 1840, Silvarum Liber I, Epitalamio pel maritaggio di Stella e Violantilla (Stella and Violantilla, An Epithalamium), p. 1490).

Love, with his quiver of arrows, shouts out loud, confused as he rides his sugar-paper cloud, so much so that the drowsy goddess shields her eyes with her hand and tries to find the reason behind so much noise. At the edge of the wood are the two lovers to whom the painting is dedicated (or so it has been thought; perhaps it was Alfonso I d’Este, Duke of Ferrara, and Laura Dianti, who he called Eustochia). Painting them is Luteri – known as Dosso – who Ariosto, in contrast with the ancient masters:

«…Apelles, first of note,
Zeuxis and others…»
placed next to:
« Mantegna, Leonardo, Gian Belline,
[…] and skilled to carve or to pourtray,
Michael, less man than angel and divine;
Bastiano, Raphael, Titian, who (as they
Urbino and Venice) makes Cadoro shine»
(Ariosto, L., Orlando Furioso, Ferrara,1532, Canto XXXIII).