Portrait of a Child as Cupid: William Paterson Van Rensselaer Jr. (1835-1854)

Francesco Anelli (about 1805-about 1878)
Date: 1836-1837
Medium: Oil on canvas
Dimensions: 40 1/4 H x 50 1/4 W
Provenance: This painting was commissioned by the subject's father, William Paterson Van Rensselaer, Sr. (1805-1872), was descended to Kitty (Katherine) Van Rensselaer Erving (b. 1873) to William Van Rensselaer Erving (b. 1871) and then to Justine Bayard Erving (1881-1955), the subject's niece
Credit: Gift of Miss Justine Bayard Erving
Accession Number: 1951.3.8
Comments: Painter Francesco Anelli was quite celebrated in his own time, but today is quite obscure. He was known in America for his historical paintings and portraits, including this depiction of William Paterson Van Rensselaer, Jr., as Cupid. The young boy is represented in a spectacularly theatrical manner, "revealed" triumphantly by the parting of the heavy red draperies. The Empire-style furniture on which he reclines was the height of contemporary style, though the bow and arrow remind viewers of Cupid's ancient origins as the Roman god of love.