'Venus chiding Cupid'

Sir Joshua Reynolds

Accession Number LL3543

'Venus chiding Cupid', Sir Joshua Reynolds

Cupid’s offence has been to learn to add up. In the 1770s Reynolds painted several versions of this mythological subject (which does not in fact occur in classical literature, but has antecedents in French art of the mid-18th century).

In an earlier version, which is smaller and more brightly coloured (now at Kenwood House), Reynolds was asked to drape the figure of Venus more modestly, while Cupid’s sums are nonsensical. In this version, Cupid has worked out a proper bill, which may well represent Reynolds’s actual account for the painting.

An extended study of 'Venus chiding Cupid' is available as part of our picture of the month series.