This newly discovered, rare and very significant work by Spranger, was almost certainly an imperial commission for Rudolf II, Holy Roman Emperor (1552 – 1612), for his Schatz and Kunstkammer at Prague Castle. Rudolf was one of the most important collectors of all time, and his remarkable gallery displayed fine paintings, objets d’art and natural wonders of the world. It comprised of four rooms accessible to Rudolf by a staircase from his private quarters, and the space was enormous for a Kunstkammer, stretching nearly one hundred metres long and five and a half wide. ‘Chests of drawers were filled with drawings, medals, and gems – hidden from immediate view – and larger objects like sculptures and globes stood on tables... Cases held stuffed birds, paintings hung on walls. It was a kaleidoscope of treasures, and for those privileged to visit, a dazzling delight for the senses.’ As such, Rudolf’s treasures may be seen to embody a glorious microcosm of the universe, and a shimmering reflection of his court’s magnificence and power within it.
possibly Heinrich von Uchelen (1682 – 1746), Frankfurt;his bankruptcy sale, court Substituti Frießen, Frankfurt, 20 May 1744, lot 128(as ‘Bartholomaeus Spranger, 1 schön Stück Venus und Cupido’);
or possibly (ii) one of two paintings by Spranger listed as “Von Spranger Venus und Cupito in einer gross” in the Kunstkammer of the Neuenburg, in the Hofburg Palace, Vienna;
Private collection, Padua, until c.1970;
with Galleria d’Arte Antica, Padua, until 1972; bt. by
Private collection, Turin; by descent, until 2018.
 Daniel de Briers (c.1573– 1633) was an Antwerp-born émigré jeweller and art dealer, based in Frankfurt, who had direct dealings with the Imperial Court. In 1623 Ferdinand II inherited Rudolf ’s vast collections housed in Prague Castle. He quickly sold a large collection of some 56 paintings, including this picture, to Daniel de Briers, as he thought their mythological and allegorical subjects were too frivolous and erotic. That same year Briers was commissioned by the Princeof Lichtenstein to create an Imperial crown, gems for which he also procuredfrom Ferdinand II.
 Heinrich von Uchelen(1682 – 1746) was a banker, also based in Frankfurt, but likely from Amsterdam. His company went bankrupt in 1744 and this auction was held, by court order, to pay off his debts. Interestingly, this is the first recorded instance ofa public auction held in Frankfurt.
 A building now known as the Amalienburg, which was built by Rudolf II c.1580.See Wolfgang Köhler, “Aktenstücke zur Geschichte der Wiener Kunstkammer in der Herzöglichen bibliothekzu Wolfenbüttel,” Jahrbuchder Kunsthistorischen Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, xxvi, 1906-7, pt.2, reg. no.19946, under no.83, no.21 and 22.
The Weiss Gallery, A Connoisseur's Eye, 2020, cat. 1.
As a master of mannerism, Spranger specialised in mythological subjects at a time when humanist themes were increasingly in demand, and the appetite for religious art had declined. Once he became court painter in Prague to the Emperor Rudolph, of all the subjects that Spranger painted, it was the seductive female form that most beguiled his most significant patron, and their sensuality continues to fascinate today, representing the pinnacle of his painterly brilliance and innovation. Mythological subjects such as this enabled Spranger to develop eruditely profane themes, often treated in the form of complex allegories. In this instance, the artist draws inspiration from a phrase from the Roman comedian Terence’s Eunuchus (IV, 732) – ‘Sine Cerere et Baccho friget Venus’, (‘without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus grows cold’), in other words, love needs food and wine to thrive. It was a subject frequently depicted by Northern Mannerist artists such as Goltzius and Von Aachen, and a theme much expounded by Spranger, whose lithe nudes and appreciation of mythological sentiment formed the core of his oeuvre. As seen in the Goltzius engraving, Spranger depicts Venus holding grapes to represent Bacchus and ears of wheat for Ceres, with Cupid by her side, but he also includes Mercury, the father of Cupid, flying up to Mount Olympus where in the clouds a nebulous female figure beckons. This is likely to represent Psyche who, in order to become Cupid’s wife, was created an immortal and borne to Olympus by Mercury. No other painting or engraving is known to combine all these characters and, as Professor DaCosta Kaufmann points out, the commissioning of this complex allegory would likely have been a specific request to convey imperial propaganda that has now become obscure.
Scientific analysis of the painting and its pigments has revealed that the work is fully compatible with Spranger’s palette and practice, and on stylistic grounds and comparison to other paintings by the artist it can be dated to circa 1600. The form of Venus is closely comparable to Spranger’s now much damaged Suicide of Sophonisba (Narodni Galerie, Prague, 1605), in which the central female figure assumes a similarpose. Our painting, with its tender portrayal of motherhood, yet erotic and sinuous understanding of form and flesh, is characteristic of the final phase of Northern Mannerism, combining elements of Netherlandish painting with a Roman sensibility. The particular sweetness of Venus’s expression is typical of Spranger’s women, usually framed by blond curls and an elaborate bejewelled hairstyle. A facial comparison can be made with Spranger’sVenus and Cupid (Musée des Beaux-Arts, Troyes), and with his Diana (Szépművészeti Múzeum, Budapest).Venus gazes up at Cupid as he returns an arrow to its quiver, and his pose shares much in common with Spranger’s drawing depicting another Cupid (Germanisches Nationalmuseum, Nuremberg, inv. no. HZ 28, dated 1599). There, the young Cupid also appears as if suspended in air, his imperious gesture likewise recalling that of Minerva in Spranger’s Minerva Vanquishing Ignorance (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna, c.1596 – 1600).
The broad, yet delicate blue-green landscape and cloudy sky, provide an expressive interpretation of nature typical of Spranger’s idealised aesthetic. The architectural elements are comparable to some of the artist’s earlier works, as in his Saint Jerome in the Wilderness (Museo di Capodimonte, Naples, 1568), and his Saint George and the Dragon (Szepmuveszeti Museum) and Charity (Staatliche Kunsthalle Karlsruhe, 1569).
RUDOLF II, HOLY ROMAN EMPEROR (1552 – 1612)
During the reign of Emperor Rudolf II, the city of Prague became one of the most enlightened centres of artistic and philosophical innovation in the history of Europe. Rudolf was the eldest son and successor of Maximilian II, Holy Roman Emperor, King of Bohemia, and King of Hungary and Croatia, from a loveless marriage with his cousin, Maria of Spain, daughter of Charles V and Isabella of Portugal. He and his younger brother Ernest were sent to the Spanish court of his maternal uncle, Philip II, in Madrid, from the age of eleven to nineteen, and his uncle’s learning and appreciation of the arts as a generous patron and passionate collector no doubt provided a formative influence on the young Rudolf. Their humanist education, provided by two tutors who had come from Vienna with the young princes, was alternated with hunting, dancing and tournaments.
In the years following his return to Vienna, whilst his father was still alive Rudolf was created King of Hungary (1572), King of Bohemia and King of the Romans (1575). With the sudden death of Maximilian in 1576, the need for a formally chosen future residence for the imperial seat became urgent. Immediately after his accession, the construction of Prague Castle was already underway and from 1580 onwards, Rudolf chose to remain in Prague on a more or less permanent basis, and an act of 1583 established Prague Castle as the imperial seat.
Once installed, Rudolf won the favour of the Bohemian estates, and distanced himself not only from his family in Vienna, but also from the Papal court. It was his chance to model a castle, a city and a people in his own aesthetic, humanist and scientific philosophies. Many of the scholars, artists and artisans who had worked for Ferdinand I and Maximilian II now followed the new Emperor to Prague Castle, forming a nucleus colony of scholars and artists, with Spranger at its heart. Other artists in Rudolf’s employ included Martino Rota, Giuseppe Archimboldo and Hans Von Aachen.
In the final two decades of the sixteenth century, painters in Rudolf’s court worked in the majority of genres, all of which interested the Emperor, but none more so than the mythological. They all shared an Italian training and the ability to influence one another, and often their friendships had preceded their arrival in Prague. The Emperor granted them extraordinary freedom in their work, in his desire to furnish his castle extravagantly.
Prague had become an immense centre of art and culture. As the court expanded into the bordering towns of the city, the private studios of court artists moved into private burghers’ houses, and art became a commodity for all. Although the Emperor reserved the priority to purchase works from his artists, some craftsmen and artists also worked for burghers, the various city corporations and, of course, for the nobility. As such, the Rudolfine courtly aesthetic came to influence the culture of Prague more generally. Creating allegories, histories, portraits, and landscapes, these artists vied to satisfy the Emperor’s, and the city’s, voracious appetite for beauty.
By the 1600s, a dark shadow was cast over this great city by Rudolf’s increasing mental infirmity. He became ever more paranoid, dismissing his most trusted advisors, while his own brother Matthias promulgated rumours of Rudolf’s madness, taking control of Hungary, Austria and Moravia, leaving the once great Emperor only with control of Bohemia. Indeed, by 1606, Matthias was appointed Head of the House of Hapsburgs, and Rudolf was forced from Prague Castle to the gilded cage of Villa Belvedere, built by his great-grandfather, Ferdinand I. It presaged a tragic slowing-down of the city’s great artistic blossoming, further brought to an end by the chaotic events of the soon-to-erupt Thirty Years War. In 1648, at the end of the war, Queen Christina of Sweden’s army swept through Prague and looted the city and castle. Although many of Rudolf’s treasures had already been moved to Vienna, what remained of his Kunstkammer suffered damage and dispersal. Much was taken back to Stockholm, and then later, when Christina converted to Catholicism, to Rome. Thus, many of the Emperor’s greatest treasures were widely dispersed and have become difficult to trace. The surviving inventories, with their brief descriptions, provide an often cryptic and tantalising window onto his treasures, as with our own painting of Venus and Cupid.
Bartholomeus, who became court painter to first Pope Pius V and later to Holy Roman Emperors Maximilian II and finally Rudolph II, was born in Antwerp, the son of a Flemish merchant, Joachim Spranger. Showing an early talent for drawing he was apprenticed as a youth to the artist, Jan Mandijn (1502 – 1560), and then with Cornelis van Dalem (c.1530 – 1573). In 1565 aged but nineteen, as many other Flemish artists did, he travelled south to Italy via Paris, where he briefly worked in the studio of Marc Duval (1530 – 1581), before arriving in Milan.
From Milan he set out for Parma, where he worked as an assistant to Bernardino Gatti (1495 – 1576), who was decorating the dome of Santa Maria della Steccata. Here, Spranger studied the masterpieces and frescoes by Correggio (1489 – 1534), whose work was to form a significant influence on his style. In 1566, Spranger set out for Rome. Here, he met Giorgio Giulio Clovio (1498 – 1578), who introduced him to the great patron, Cardinal Alessandro Farnese (1520 – 1589). From this introduction no doubt came his recommendation to serve as court painter to Pope Pius V (1504 – 1572), for whom he worked for two years.
In 1575, eager for promotion, at the recommendation of Giambologna (1529 – 1608), Spranger was called to the court of Maximilian II (1527 – 1576), in Vienna. This was a pivotal appointment that ultimately led to Spranger’s employ by Maximilian’s successor, Rudolf II. Spranger came to Prague as one of the first painters in Rudolf’s entourage, engaged to produce numerous mythological scenes linked to the Emperor’s esoteric taste for late Renaissance philosophical ideas, for an elite and sophisticated audience. Thus, Spranger was officially appointed as ‘Hofkünstler’ (court artist) in 1581, at fifteen guldens per month, a salary that was regularly and substantially raised over the years. It was an appointment that presaged great stability in the artist’s life, and after his peripatetic youth, he chose now to settle down with a young wife, Christina Müller, the fourteen-year-old daughter of a prominent court goldsmith and jeweller, Nikolaus Müller. Christina was blond and delicately featured, very much the ideal of beauty expounded by Spranger in his female subjects, his very own Venus.
Upon his appointment Spranger focused his energies on painting erotic mythologies, his first being a series, Neptune and Coenis, (only known today through drawings and engravings), with erotic couplings that would become his signature style, male and female nudes entwined in rapture. The present painting, with quite literally the theme of love at its heart, can be regarded as the visual culmination of Spranger’s most seductive and expressive production. Yet, in 1600, not long after, and at the apogee of Spranger’s artistic output, his wife Christina died, leaving the artist hugely bereft. Despite his personal loss, Spranger had reached a point of great artistic fulfilment. A master court artist, he was rewarded by Rudolf for his years of excellent work, with one thousand guldens, which he used in 1602 for a final trip to the city of his birth, Antwerp, where he was lauded as a hero.
His return coincided with the demise of Rudolf ’s health and sanity, and marked a shift in Spranger’s final output, with a darker palette and a sense of foreboding: his lithe nudes became more heavily sculptural, his themes more brooding, such as The Suicide of Sophonisba from c.1605. In January 1611, Spranger wrote his last will and testament, dying on 27 September that same year. It reveals a generous man, bequeathing over a thousand thalers to friends beyond his immediate family, and his remaining fortune and house adjacent to Prague Castle were given to his brother, Quirin. It was only a year later that Rudolf II himself would die, marking the end of a golden age in Prague.
The following has been written by Professor Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann
I believe that this picture with figures from Greco-Roman mythology represents an important rediscovery. It can be convincingly attributed to Bartholomeus Spranger (1546 – 1611), the Antwerp-born court painter to Emperor Rudolf II Habsburg (1506 – 1612). Most likely it is mentioned in a record pertaining to the imperial collections initially assembled in Prague.
The attribution of this work is based on numerous similarities of figure type, setting, composition, general conception of theme, modelling, colouring, and facture with other works by Spranger. Although disagreements among scholars in dating the artist’s works noted thirty years ago may persist, numerous indices suggest a dating of this work by the artist to comparable paintings datable despite some inconsistencies in consensus to period from the end of the sixteenth century through the first years of the seventeenth century. Undraped female figures like that in the picture under consideration appear in numerous paintings by Spranger. They have been associated with a penchant often deemed ‘erotic’ found throughout the artist’s oeuvreand in that of many other artists at the imperial court, associated with the taste of Rudolf II.
However, as will be discussed below, in this case the manner of presentation may fit the subject appropriately, and nudity is of course a common form of depiction of the ancient gods as revived in Renaissance works of art. The combination of two mythological figures – the smaller winged child- like male figure on the left with bow, quiver, and arrows, may easily be identified as Cupid/Eros – is frequently found in Spranger’s oeuvre. More specifically, semi-nude females shown in three-quarter length appear in several of Spranger’s paintings of the late 1590s and early 1600s. The pose of the figure in this particular picture, with head upturned to the right, eyes staring up to the right, body seen in frontal view, and seated slanting slightly to the right, is very close to that of the heroine in a painting of The Suicide of Sophonisba. That painting has been re-dated by Sally Metzler to 1605, and was previously dated by Jaromír Neumann to 1610, and initially by this author (whose chronology for Spranger was devised in collaboration with Konrad Oberhuber) as 1596 – 1600; I am prepared to accept Metzler’s re-dating.
The facial type in the work under consideration is also a variant of Sophonisba’s, and resembles that seen in other Spranger paintings. The youthful mien of Cupid, with curly locks falling down the middle of his high forehead, small nose, plump cheeks, small bow-shaped puckered lips, and small chin, is a type familiar from Spranger’s works from the later 1590s. The way that Cupid alights, with one leg raised, toe pointing upward, the other leg trailing backward, head pointing downward to the side, is similar to that of a drawing of Cupid signed by the artist and dated 1599.
In the early 1600s Spranger set compositions before a verdant landscape with a darkened sky behind, most noticeable in his Baptism dated 1603, and the background here is very comparable to them.
After repeated examination of the painting, I observed that the color-change modeling in the quiver, with exquisite tones of grey and mauve, is extremely attractive, and characteristic of much of that sort of effect in Spranger’s oeuvre. I also observed that the modeling using green undertones (they are more evident especially in the face of the female) as the superficial glazes may have become more transparent) seems similar to that in Spranger’s works from the early 1600s. The pasty treatment of highlights also recurs frequently in Spranger’s oeuvre. All told, I believe that this painting is a work by Spranger datable to the first years of the 1600s.
SUBJECT MEANING AND PROVENANCE
While the basic identification of Cupid in this painting seems straightforward, that of the female figure is not. She holds a cluster of grapes in her left hand, and two straws of wheat in her right. Absent of other attributes (the pearl necklace that falls between her breasts is found as an adornment of various female protagonists in Spranger, and can thus not be regarded as a motif associated with Venus Anadyomene), the wheat and grapes must be used to identify her. Their presence may lead to identification of her as Venus in relation to the subject of the well-known adage taken from the Roman comedian Terence’s Eunuch, Sine Baccho et Cerere friget Venus, without Bacchus and Ceres Venus Freezes, meaning that Love needs nourishment. This subject is frequently represented in the history of art, by Spranger among many other artists. The wheat and grapes may be related to this adage and hence to an association with Venus. Engravings by Hendrik Goltzius of c.1590 and by Agostino Carracci of 1599 show Venus holding ears of wheat and grapes in her hands, without the depiction of Bacchus, but with scenes of harvesting in the background, which may refer to Ceres (and implicitly to Bacchus). These prints both bear the inscription Sine Baccho et Cerere friget Venus.
The identification of Cupid and Venus is confirmed by the two figures painted in grisaille shown in the clouds in the upper right of the painting. Close, repeated examination reveals them to be a woman, shown bare-breasted and bust-length, who holds a yellow tipped object in her hand, a torch. In her right hand she holds the edges of something that may be seen to be the edge of a blanket or covering, which she seems to remove from a recumbent, evidently male figure shown to her right, as he lies down on the clouds. This group can be linked to a key moment in the story of Cupid and Psyche, where Psyche, against her hitherto unknown lover’s admonitions, finds out who he really is.
The story of Cupid and Psyche is most familiar from subplot within the ancient novel known as The Golden Ass by Apuleius. In it Psyche falls in love with Cupid, and undergoes numerous trials imposed by Venus, which she overcomes. Jupiter orders Mercury to carry her to heaven, where she is made immortal and married to Cupid, whose union is celebrated by a banquet of the gods. Episodes of this story, including depictions of Mercury carrying Psyche to heaven were the subject of numerous works by Renaissance artists, including several by Spranger and other artists active at the imperial court.
The interpretation of the painting as a representation of this theme is complicated by the appearance of another figure in the painting. The figure in the background who seems to fly to the heavens may give a clue to the further meaning and context. He is identifiable as Mercury by his winged helmet and heels and caduceus. His appearance may not be accounted for by reference to the theme Sine Baccho et Cerere friget Venus. Instead, he may also be associated with the story of Cupid and Psyche. Mercury serves as a messenger from Venus to announce broadly a reward for finding Psyche, and penultimately, it is suggested, may carry Psyche aloft to the clouds.
The question is why Mercury, Cupid and Psyche might be shown together with Venus and Cupid, given that the seemingly positive relation of Venus to Cupid in the foreground runs counter to the behaviour of Venus in most of the story of Cupid and Psyche, where she makes difficulties for Psyche. A simple answer to the appearance of Mercury, related by the story, is said by Venus herself, who tells the divine messenger that ‘You know that Venus has never done anything without the aid of Mercury.’ However, the relatively unusual grouping of themes suggests some further allegorical significance, as does the somewhat odd combination of motifs.
This hypothesis is supported on the one hand by the fact that in many Renaissance representations the story of Cupid and Psyche lends itself to allegorical representations, stemming from the obvious meaning of Psyche as soul. This is particularly the case with the representation of Mercury/Hermes, who in one of his guises is the psychopomp, leader of the souls – in many images he is shown literally carrying Psyche/soul aloft. The easiest explanation involves immortality, which is conveyed on Psyche.
On the other hand, no surviving known work by Spranger exists in any medium in which the subject of Sine Baccho et Cerere friget Venus is shown without the presence of Bacchus and Venus. Indeed, Spranger shows the three (or four, counting Cupid) gods in relation to each other in one way or another in all his representations of the theme, notably in paint. As the artist himself suggests in a signed and dated drawing of 1604 in which he shows Bacchus and Ceres walking away as Cupid and Venus huddle warming themselves before a fire, Venus freezes in the absence of the two other gods. In the initial context in Terence, this is not meant, however, as in Spranger, to suggest that Love needs to be warmed up, but that wine (and food) increase desire.
Moreover, Cupid is shown in Spranger’s painting putting away his arrow rather than extracting it from his quiver. If it were the latter, he would be grasping it by the feather end. Replacing it back into the quiver may hardly be associated with the heat of love. The notion that Cupid is asleep in the clouds is also not suggesting erotic activity. Both the motif of Cupid putting away his arrows and sleeping Venus may be associated with another conception of love. The first motif is related to depictions of the education of Cupid, who is disciplined by having his weapons taken away (as in many versions of a composition by Alessandro Allori, for example in the Uffizi). Here he seems to have learned his lesson. Similarly the sleeping figure of Cupid, as in many other images in which he is shown dormant, suggests another sort of meaning.
The presence of white roses in the bottom left corner of the picture also call for interpretation. White roses appear in the emblematic literature of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries as symbols of purity. (Furthermore, in ancient mythology blood colours the roses – as in the story from Ovid of Venus and Adonis.) This hardly lends to a view of the theme of the heating of erotic love and is inappropriate to the idea of its cooling off as well.
While the subject plays with the theme of Sine Baccho et Cerere friget Venus without its erotic connotations, it may therefore rather suggest the idea of nourishing Venus, corresponding to the conception of Venus as a personification (and goddess of love) as a source of fecundity. A poem accompanying an engraving by Aegidius Sadeler after Spranger and published by Joris Hoefnagel called Venus Receiving Gifts, says as much: ‘[it] ties with a bond of life all things that have been created.’ This print shows Venus holding grapes and receiving gifts of fruits, grain, and doves, another of her symbols. This notion may correspond to an important poetic and philosophical current that relates Venus to the creative force of nature, the nourishing Venus (‘Alma Venus’, De rerum natura 1:2) described by Lucretius as the generative power in all living beings. This notion of nourishing Venus may be related to the motif of maternal nourishment (captured in the phrase ‘Mother Earth’), and the parallelism of Venus/Isis/Eve/Mary. As such, it this idea of nourishment may be related to Venus’s bared breasts, not as erotically enticing, but as life-giving. In turn, this concept relates to white roses: in the Song of Songs (and elsewhere), and various Marian litanies, milk is associated with white roses. This subject also resonates in numerous Renaissance works of art.
From c.1600 the use of mythological figures for the expression of allegory appears increasingly in Spranger’s oeuvre, as it does in that of other Rudolfine artists. Often the allegory is compressed into a few figures, as it is here. Rudolfine allegory increasingly reflects on the emperor and his virtues in the first years of the 1600s, when the ‘long war’ with the Turks was continuing (until 1606), and Rudolf II was increasingly beleaguered. Seemingly obscure or veiled allegories, including those containing what might seem to be more general (nude) personifications may point to him. A master of allegorical invention, Spranger may thus have embodied such an imperial allegory in the work under consideration, which would have appealed to the emperor for many reasons.
In any case this painting must be one of the several works by Spranger of the subject of Venus and Cupid identifiable in the collections in Prague. It is plausibly the one that was sold in 1623 to the dealer Daniel De Briers who was based in Frankfurt. I would however prefer to associate this picture instead as possibly being one of two paintings listed as ‘Von Spranger Venus und Cupito in einer gross’ in the Kunstkammer in the Neuenburg, a building now known as the Amalienburg in the Hofburg in Vienna, which was built by Rudolf II, c.1580. The paintings were listed in an inventory compiled 1610 – 1619 that contains many works known to have been painted by Spranger for Rudolf II, including his mythologies of the 1580s, many of which are now in the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna. They had been taken to Vienna from Prague after Rudolf II’s death by his successor Matthias.
 We are grateful to Prof. Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann and Dr. Eliška Fučíková for confirming the attribution after first hand inspection,and to Dr. Sally Metzlar, curator and author of Bartholomeus Spranger: Splendor and Eroticism in Imperial Prague, Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition catalogue (4 Nov 2014–1 Feb 2015) who froman image has commented ‘The painting looks fabulous and is replete with many nuances and potent characteristics of Spranger’s artistry. Wish Ihad known about it for my exhibition and book for theMet in 2014!’ (private email21 October 2019).
 E.g. Metzler, cat. no.19, where the painting is imprecisely described, but with references to other treatments of the same theme. The painting has sub- sequently been rediscovered and auctioned at Christie’s, 7 December 2017, when he fetched a price of £3,368,750.
 E.g., The School of Prague, cat. nos.20-48 and 20-49.
 See Arthur Henkeland Albrecht Schöne, ed., Emblemata, Stuttgart and Weimar, 1996.
 Metzler, cat. no.179. A similar subject is represented in a print by Muller after Spranger, ibid. cat no.181. 12. See Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Empire Triumphant: Notes on an Imperial Allegory by Adriaen de Vries in the National Gallery of Art,” Studies in the History of Art, viii, 1978, pp 63-75.
 See Thomas DaCosta Kaufmann, Empire Triumphant: Notes on an Imperial Allegory by Adriaen de Vries in the National Gallery of Art,” Studies in the History of Art, viii, 1978, pp 63-75.
 t is not possible to identify this painting however as that beingowned by Joseph von Dufresne or François de Dufresne in the eighteenth century as the descriptionof the work in their collection refers to a work in which “Venus crowns Cupid.”
 See Wolfgang Köhler, “Aktenstücke zur Geschichte der Wiener Kunstkammer in der Herzöglichen bibliothek zu Wolfenbüttel,” Jahrbuch der Kunsthistor- ischen Sammlungen des Allerhöchsten Kaiserhauses, xxvi, 1906-7, pt.2, reg. no.19946, under no.83, no.21 and 22.