Leaving Cythera


The painting is usually called “The embarkation for Cythera”. Cythera is the island of Aphrodite,

Cythera detail

where mortals may experience true love.

Cythera detail 1

However, Waldemar Januszczak, whose programme on the Baroque introduced me to this, believes that the beautiful ones are leaving the island-

Cythera detail cupids

where the Cupids disport themselves. He argues this because of the woman in the centre, on the hillock, who looks longingly back towards

Goddess detail 1

The Goddess

Goddess detail 2

Pictures from Wikimedia, where you can use Flash to explore the painting in even greater detail.

4 thoughts on “Leaving Cythera

  1. I find that man exceedingly annoying- and I hated his take on the baroque. He criticised some of the greatest painters of all time. And that ridiculous posing as Marie Louise O’Murphy? Personally I don’t think he understood the baroque. His analysis was two dimensional. Nearly adolescent.


    • I found the only artists in his series I had heard of (and remembered) were Gainsborough and Hogarth. How insular. And he is the only art critic making TV at the moment (I don’t have the Sky Arts channels). He is definitely part of the entertainment, with his teddybearish flat-footed clumping around.

      I find in these programmes my entrance to Art and art criticism, formerly a rarefied high-brow activity, speaks to me.


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