In this haunting and seductive painting, artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti has depicted his version of Venus (the Roman goddess of love). The model for this painting was the auburn-haired 'stunner' Alexa Wilding.
The beauty of Venus is complemented by a luxurious profusion of flowers - roses are in full bloom on both sides of the goddess, while honeysuckle frames the lower portion of the painting. Venus holds an arrow in one hand and an apple in the other, and it is interesting to note that both of these objects are traditionally symbols associated with love and desire.
The painting shares its subject with the following sonnet written by Dante Gabriel Rossetti:
She hath the apple in her hand for thee,
Yet almost in her heart would hold it back;
She muses, with her eyes upon the track
Of that which in thy spirit they can see.
Haply, 'Behold, he is at peace,' saith she;
'Alas! the apple for his lips, - the dart
That follows its brief sweetness to his heart, -
The wandering of his feet perpetually.'
A little space her glance is still and coy;
But if she gets the fruit that works her spell,
Those eyes shall flame as for her Phrygian boy.
Then shall her bird's strained throat woe foretell,
And as far seas moan as a single shell,
And her grove glow with love-lit fires of Troy.
For More Information
An article about Venus (Aphrodite) in Classical mythology is available at Mythography.
David Rodgers has written this informative and engaging book about the artist Dante Gabriel Rossetti. The book, which is part of the Phaidon Colour Library series, features many of Rossetti's most memorable paintings, including his Beata Beatrix and The Blessed Damozel.
This lovely book by Andrea Rose captures the essence of Pre-Raphaelite art using a series of images from several artists. Paintings by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Edward Burne-Jones, William Holman Hunt, John Everett Millais, and many other artists are presented in full color, with intriguing commentaries.