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Venus Wounded by a Rose’s Thorn

According to the little-known tale of Venus and a rosebush, derived from Francesco Colonna’s love story Hypnerotomachia Poliphili (1499), all roses (Venus’s symbol) were white until touched by the goddess’s blood. In some versions, she is scratched when she runs to save her lover Adonis from Mars. In others, she wanders through the briar after his death.

This contemplative image for the stufetta (the small heated washroom) of Cardinal Bibbiena, however, removes all references to Adonis to focus, instead, on the idealized beauty of the nude female form. The figure recalls Hellenistic sculptures of Venus at her dressing table, while the background foliage is derived from a contemporary print by Albrecht Dürer. Another print by Marco Dente after this series is in the Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art collection (Eskenazi Museum of Art 98.273).

Marco Dente
Italian, ca.1486–1527
after Raphael
Italian, 1483–1520
Venus Wounded by a Rose’s Thorn
ca. 1516
Engraving on paper
Image: 10 5/16 x 6 11/16 in. (26.2 x 17.0 cm); plate: 10 7/16 x 6 7/8 in. (26.5 x 17.5 cm); sheet: 11 x 7 5/16 in. (27.9 x 18.6 cm)
Sidney and Lois Eskenazi Museum of Art, Collection of Diether Thimme, 98.272