This monumental painting of the goddess Venus and her son Amor has an infectious theme. The young Amor has stolen some honey. He still holds the honeycomb in his hand and angry bees swarm around his head. His mother Venus is teaching him a lesson here: the burning arrows of desire with which he so often wounds people are just as painful as the bee stings, and now he’s getting a taste of his own medicine. The Latin text in the top left corner compares the pain from a sting to that of heartbreak.
Apart from this theme, the attention is largely focused on Venus, who is depicted with lilywhite skin, elongated limbs and a small, delicate face. The gossamer veil serves more to emphasize her nudity than preserve her dignity. This kind of depiction of the female nude by Cranach was already very popular in his day.
The painting is undated, but was certainly made after 1537. This can be derived from the dragon above Amor: the family crest and also the ‘signature’ of Cranach. In his early works this dragon’s wings are raised, after 1537 they are lowered.