In the Galleries of the Art Institute of Chicago hangs a tremendous portray by the 16th Century Italian, Baroque artist Bartolomeo Manfredi. The identify of the piece is “Cupid Chastised”.
This portray depicts Mars (the god of struggle) hanging Cupid with a whip whereas Venus (the goddess of affection) crouched to the aspect makes an attempt to cease Mars from his assault on the younger Cupid. The scene exhibits Mars wearing Roman garb with a hanging purple toga, Venus in a stola, and cupid bare with quiver, bow, and arrows.
When you first take a look at this piece you’re taken by the excellent artistry of the work. The scene could be very dramatic with Mars thrusting Cupid down able to strike whereas Venus is off to the aspect in shock making an attempt to stop Mars from hanging. The colours, composition, and facial features are all very effective and reveal an fascinating story. The portray was initially believed to be a Caravaggio and with good cause for the excellent execution of chiaroscuro enormously intensifies the drama within the scene.
Upon viewing this murals one may assume that it’s typical Classical Mythology with Mars chastising cupid for his entanglement with himself and Venus. However this isn’t the case in any respect, what we now have right here is likely one of the most intense scenes of homo-eroticism in European Art!
While I used to be a scholar on the School of the Art Institute of Chicago I had the privilege to take a course of European Painting by the legendary professor Robert J. Loescher. In considered one of our walks by means of the galleries of the Art Institute professor Loescher stopped the category earlier than this well-known portray and requested us to answer it. When we completed our responses (which have been all lacking the purpose) he then defined the murals to us.
Roman mythology is the car utilized by Manfredi to ship his actual message which is Homo-Erotic Sadomasochism. As a gay man Manfredi often expressed his sexuality in his works and that is the working example right here with Cupid Chastised. What we now have right here is Cupid depicted as a younger male (a clean hairless youth or “twink” in gay slang, not an harmless winged child) receiving sexual gratification from Mars’ strikes! Cupid’s ass situated lifeless middle is clearly the focus of this portray as he awaits Mars’ strikes with the ropes. If you take a look at Cupid’s wrist it’s limp (passively submitting to Mars) not clenched as it will be in a wrestle and whereas blind folded his mouth is open displaying him in a state of full ecstasy. Both male figures are good-looking, dominant, and superbly rendered. Whereas Venus, shoved off to the aspect, together with her breast hanging out (a ploy to fulfill straight viewers) is quite homely wanting, not a lot to say for the goddess of affection!
Truly this virile male to male intense sexual interplay leaves all of us to mirror on our personal sexual persona. As the saying goes “Do not judge a book by its cover”, nevertheless, take a re-evaluation!