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Cupid at Rest

Cambiaso Luca

(Moneglia 1527 - El Escorial 1585)

The canvas, mentioned in Scipione Borghese’s inventory around 1633, is one of Luca Cambiaso’s many elaborate mythological works, unmistakable for the erotic connotation of his figures, particularly accentuated here by Cupid’s languid pose, portrayed lying at the foot of a tree, in an unusual image of repose.

Object details

oil on canvas
cm 90 x 78

Salvator Rosa, 112.5 x 87 x 9 cm


Rome, Scipione Borghese Collection, 1633 (Inv. 1633, no. 67 published by Corradini in 1998 and dated by Pierguidi in 2014); Inv. 1693, room, VI, no. 30; Inv. 1790, room VI, no. 7; Inventario Fidecommissario, 1833, p. 39; purchased by the Italian State, 1902.

  • 1927 Genova, Teatro Carlo Felice.
Conservation and Diagnostic
  • 1942 Carlo Matteucci (eliminazione vernici).


This canvas is mentioned for the first time as part of the Borghese Collection in an inventory compiled by Cardinal Scipione, discovered by Sandro Corradini (1998) and dated 1633 circa by Stefano Pierguidi (2014). In the description, the work is correctly attributed to Luca Cambiaso (“A painting on canvas of a seated Cupid in a black and gold frame with foliage, 3 3/4 in height and 2 1/2 in width, Cangiato”). The name was confused by the compiler of the 1693 inventory (Inv. 1693, room, VI, n. 30) with that of Pomarancio, but correctly quoted both by Iacomo Manilli (1650) and in the 1760 file transcribed by Giovanni Piancastelli (see De Rinaldis, 1937, p. 226) that places the work in the city palace, precisely in the “Hall of Venuses” alongside a “Venus Caressed by Adonis, Luca Cangiassi” (inv. 317) and a “Venus and Cupid in the Sea on Dolphins” (inv. 123) by the same artist. In a catalogue of the artworks of Galleria Borghese, Paola della Pergola (1955) lists it as an original painting by the Genoese artist, and in 1958 Bertina Suida Manning likened it to the Sleeping Saint John (Genoa, Museo degli Ospedali Civili), situating it chronologically between 1560 and 1565.  

The canvas depicts the god of love as a sweet, innocent boy who has laid down his bow and is allowing himself an unusual moment of rest under a tree. The position of the legs exactly recalls the pose in Venus and Cupid at Sea, with which it shares a certain “plastic rigidity” (see Magnani, 1995, pp. 92-93), both in the rendition of the shadows and in the attempt to make the scene more dynamic.       

Antonio Iommelli

  • I. Manilli, Villa Borghese fuori di Porta Pinciana, Roma 1650, p. 110;
  • G. Piancastelli, Catalogo dei quadri della Galleria Borghese, in Archivio Galleria Borghese, 1891, p. 95;
  • A. Venturi, Il Museo e la Galleria Borghese, Roma 1893, p. 118;
  • R. Longhi, Precisioni nelle Gallerie Italiane, I, La R. Galleria Borghese, Roma 1928, p. 196:
  • A. Venturi, Storia dell’Arte Italiana, IX, Roma 1933, p. 853;
  • P. Della Pergola, Il n. 185 della Galleria Borghese, in “Arte Veneta”, VI, 1952, p. 22;
  • P. della Pergola, La Galleria Borghese. I Dipinti, I, Roma 1955, p. 72, n. 127;
  • B. Suida Manning, W. Suida, Luca Cambiaso, la vita e le opere, Milano 1958, pp. 147, 165;
  • P. della Pergola, L’Inventario Borghese del 1693 (II), in “Arte Antica e Moderna”, XXVIII, 1964, pp. 459, 466;
  • L. Magnani., Luca Cambiaso: da Genova all’Escorial, Genova, 1995;
  • S. Corradini, Un antico inventario della quadreria del Cardinal Borghese, in Bernini scultore: la nascita del barocco in Casa Borghese, catalogo della mostra (Roma, Galleria Borghese, 1998), a cura di A. Coliva e S. Schütze, Roma 1998, p. 8, n. 67;
  • P. Moreno, C. Stefani, Galleria Borghese, Milano 2000, p. 248;
  • K. Herrmann Fiore, Galleria Borghese Roma scopre un tesoro. Dalla pinacoteca ai depositi un museo che non ha più segreti, San Giuliano Milanese 2006, p. 66;
  • A. Leonardi, in Luca Cambiaso un maestro del Cinquecento europeo, catalogo della mostra (Genova, Palazzo Ducale, 2007), a cura di P. Boccardo, F. Boggero, C. Di Fabio, L. Magnani, Milano 2007, pp. 248, 250;
  • S. Pierguidi, ’In materia totale di pitture si rivolsero al singolar Museo Borghesiano’. La quadreria Borghese tra il palazzo di Ripetta e la villa Pinciana, in "Journal of the HIstory of Collections", XXVI, 2014, pp. 161-170.