Recently attributed to 16th century Florentine artist Luca Penni, the painting “Venus and Cupid” has just emerged from a long and meticulous restoration process made possible thanks to the sponsorship of the BNP Paribas Foundation.
Sometimes known as “Love Caressing Venus”, it is one of the few known paintings done by Luca Penni, who was a pupil of Raphael. Acquired by the Bourges Museum in 1840, this piece is a major work in the collections of the Museum of Decorative Arts, and it is a stunning example of the themes typical of the 16th century: the exaltation of love and the female form.
In addition to the lascivious attitude of the characters, the paintings decorative elements are established suggestive allegories: at the time, an abundance of jewellery had an unmistakably erotic meaning. The gold-tipped arrows on the table in the foreground represent Cupid and reciprocal love. The vase is filled with delicate, perishable flowers that suggest the ephemeral nature of love.
Timeworn and frequently repainted, the painting has undergone a long-term restoration process focused both on its supporting medium and the paint layer.
This painstaking work has restored its full splendour and its rightful place at the heart of the museum's collections, kept in a town house in the centre of Bourges.
Making good its commitment to restoring museum pieces, the BNP Paribas Foundation signed an agreement for the restoration of “Venus and Love” in April 2009.