The Daily Prompt today says it all by its name: Cupid’s Arrow. More specifically, the editor says, “It’s Valentine’s Day, so write an ode to someone or something you love. Bonus points for poetry!”
The topic reminded me of one of the most unusual paintings by a Renaissance artist who had been largely forgotten until the late 19th century, Lorenzo Lotto. It is called the Peeing Cupid, and those of you, my dear readers, who’ve been to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, might have seen it.
add insult to injury earn some bonus points, I have to accompany this painting with a poem.
You thought that Cupid was a toddler.
White wings. Cute toys.
Nay. He was older. He was odder.
Loved pervert joys.
And, yes, Cupid is peeing on Venus.
You may wonder what do I love about all that?
Lorenzo Lotto was a contemporary of Giorgione and Titian. He was commercially ousted from Venice by these masters. They introduced the fashion of using mythology themes as alibi for painting overtly erotic images and plots. Today we see nothing bad about Giorgione’s Venus. We actually see a lot of good things. Back in the 16th century it was a revolution in art and morals. Lorenzo was a religious man. He was interested in the psychology of people he portrayed. Were he to establish himself commercially, Venetian Renaissance might develop not towards the beauty-obsessed mannerist but to something closer to Rembrandt. Alas, Lorenzo died as a monk, without any possessions. How could this religious man paint something like the Peeing Cupid?! Have you ever done something you didn’t think was really deserving a medal of honour, just decent enough to get money for a job well done? The painting was meant to be a marriage gift, with complicated symbolism of the piss. You can check out the Met’s point of view here. The really funny thing is that Lorenzo, being religious, would not hire models to sit for him (or “recline”) so that he could paint nudes. Only once he paid money to a model. Just for looking. We know this because he left a notebook in which he would put all his earnings and expenses, and that notebook covered his whole life. I love that!
I love this artist who decided to stay poor and unrecognised, but true to what he believed was his, and the right way in art.
Now, to those of you who are waiting for the answer to yesterday’s riddle about the sculpture of a horse with giant human penis – please stand by. It is coming.