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Wenceslaus Hollar

(Bohemian, 1607–1677; active in Germany, Flanders, and England)

The Realm of Venus

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Object Details

Artist

Wenceslaus Hollar

Date

17th century

Medium

Etching on laid paper

Dimensions

Image: 3 1/2 x 5 5/8 inches (8.9 x 14.3 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of George C. Kenney II and Olga Kitsakos-Kenney

Object
Number

86.094.008

Master printmaker Wenceslaus Hollar made a series of etchings based upon works in the collection of (…)

Master printmaker Wenceslaus Hollar made a series of etchings based upon works in the collection of Thomas Howard, Lord Arundel, including this intimate composition of a pastoral nude. The painting by Adam Elsheimer upon which this print is based was meant to contrast the “realms” ruled over by the three most beautiful Olympians: Juno, Venus, and Minerva. While both Minerva and Juno’s realms were defined indoor spaces, where clothing was apparently encouraged, Venus’ sensuous “realm” is a lush garden setting where one could disrobe with abandon. Echoing Venus’s state of undress is her son, Cupid, who wears only a basket of flowers as a hat, and a group of nude satyrs in the distance, playfully splashing in a stream. Venus twists her nude body away from the picture plane, peering over her shoulder to entice the viewer to join the revelers. We mortals, for a moment, can be inhabitants of Venus’ legendary “realm” of love, and can partake in all the hedonistic pleasures it promises. (“Undressed: The Nude in Context, 1500-1750,” text by Brittany R. R. Rubin and presented at the Johnson Museum February 9-June 16, 2019)

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