"L'Amour Desarme"

Eros/Cupid/Amor is known as an often mischievous boy and so the motif of him getting chastised has come about. His punishment is often involves taking away or breaking his bow and arrows.

The person who punishes him is typically the Goddess Aphrodite in the case of Greek art, and Venus in the case of Roman art. Occasionally a male God assumes the role of the chastiser too: for example, Bartolomeo Manfredi painted a work Mars chastising Cupid, and the 19th century cartoonist Wilhelm Busch picked up the subject in his picture story Silen. The motif of Punished Cupid goes back to Antiquity (see e.g. the Pompeijan fresco below), and had a revival in Renaissance art.

The motif is related to (and often shown in combination with) the motif of Cupid Disarmed (French: "L'Amour Desarme") in which cupid's bow and arrows are taken away from him.

The reason why Cupid is punished can generally be assumed to be that he disobliged the person who punishes him by making him or her fall in love with someone else (via shooting his arrow). The message is that falling in love is not always a welcome thing. For example, in Mars chastising Cupid, Cupid has made the God of War fall in love with Venus, the Goddess of love. This is obviously unnatural, and could unman Mars and make him soft and vulnerable. In retaliation, he is beating Cupid. But Cupid can be interpreted as the inner feminine nature of Mars. Thus, he castigates himself for having fallen in love with Venus, which could represent any and all of the feminine side of life.

Johann Dominik Mahlknecht (Italian, 1793-1876):

Johann Dominik Mahlknecht was born on 13 November 1793 at the Rainell family home in St. Ulrich, Gröden, Italy. He was taught at a young age how to carve. He was so talented that young Dominik's father sent him to other well-known carvers for further training. He soon moved to France as a teenager and dedicated himself to a complete education in the art of sculpture. In Lyon, he sold a few pieces of his works in order to rent himself a studio in Paris, so that he could further expand his studies. He critical moment in his life was in 1812 when he moved to the culturally-rich city of Nantes. He produced several pieces in the workshop of the well-known Joseph Debay (1779-1863) which were actually meant just for the master himself, but established Dominik as an up and coming artist at the very young age of 20 years. On 4 September 1826, he was appointed by the French King Karl X "Artist to his Royal Highness" and a carving studio at the Quai D'Orsay No. 9 was placed at his disposal. He continued to work as a Tyrolean sculptor mainly in France under the name Dominig and Dominique Molknecht - Molchneht. In 1840 the French government commissioned 33 different artists to create over 33 life-size statues to decorate the outer walls of the church of La Madeleine in Paris. This diversity of styles of famous artists and the sequence of male and female saints prepared the visitor for the monumental character of the church interior. Mahlknecht created a sculpture of St. Francis de Sales which was placed on the outside of the church.

Click here to view other works by Mahlknecht.

Cick here to view another version of Venus and Cupid - Circle of Jacopo Sansovino currently on view at The Getty Center Los Angeles.




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Johann Dominik Mahlknecht (Italian, 1793-1876) A Very Fine Life-Size Italian 19th Century Patinated Bronze Figural Group "L'Amour Desarme", depicting a nude Venus standing on one foot with and arm raised and the other holding Cupid from his wings resting on her lap. Signed and Dated: Dominique Molchneht, 1833. Circa: 1833

Height: 69 inches (175 cm)

Ref.: A1723