Correggio – The Education Of Cupid.

The exquisitely painted picture known as The Education of Cupid, now in our National Gallery, was probably painted for the Duke Gonzaga of Mantua about the same time as the Jupiter and Antiope—i.e., about 1521. It is of a tall, narrow form, and represents three figures in a forest. Mercury is seated at the foot of a tree, teaching Cupid to read from a paper ; his little limbs are all contracted in his concentration of mind, and his wings are so natural that the Duke of Alva said ” he must have been born with them.” Venus is lounging against a tree, looking down on her son’s scholarship with a smile. Correggio shows how much more his art was prompted by his imagination than his intellect, not only by the incongruity of the paper as a means of education for a deity, but by the fact that Venus has wings, which make her unique of her kind. The figures are all nude, except for a cloth thrown across the loins of Mercury, and their beautifully rounded limbs with warm refined tints are thrown out in almost sculpturesque relief, softened by reflected lights and modulated shadows. The Duke of Alva bought it from the Duke of Mantua for (800. Murat took it from Madrid among the spoils of war, and brought it to Naples. The ex-Queen of Naples sold it to Lord Londonderry with the Ecce Homo, and from him it passed to the British nation in 1834.