Baglione’s Eros for the Cardinal Benedetto Giustiniani (1544-1621) was a response to the Eros that Caravaggio had painted for Marchese Vincenzo Giustaniani (1564-1637), the Cardinal’s brother. Caravaggio had drawn a pretty, provocatively naked boy as a youthful god of earthly love to be a victor over the “Liberal Arts”, power and fame. As well as this gave him the features of a boy who had also been a model for religious figures. This was a challenge to his contemporaries’ moral values. Baglione has Earthly Love thrown to the ground by a divine Eros in armour. A devil with faun’s ears and a trident is crouching bottom left. Antiquity was well aware of the competition between Eros and Anteros for the soul of man. If the two are reconciled, then perfect love is achieved. In contrast with this, Baglione’s picture, according to the official church teaching of his time, aims at the subjugation of earthly love. The divine Eros, reminiscent of the falling St. Michael, is drawing back his arms for the final thrust.


  • Title: The Divine Eros Defeats the Earthly Eros
  • Creator: Giovanni Baglione
  • Date Created: around 1602
  • Physical Dimensions: w121.4 x h183.4 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • External Link: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Medium: Canvas
  • Style: Italian
  • Copyright Text: Text: © http://www.prestel.com, Prestel Verlag / Kathrin Höltge // Photo: © http://www.bpk-images.de, b p k - Photo Agency / Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin / Jörg P. Anders
  • Collection: Gemäldegalerie, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Artist information: Giovanni Baglione was an Italian late Mannerist and early Baroque painter also known as an art historian. He is the author of Le vite de'pittori, scultori, architetti ed intagliatori dal Pontificato de Gregorio XIII del 1572 fino a'tempi di Papa Urbano VIII nel 1642 (1644), a collection of biographies of artists. He studied under Francesco Morelli and was mainly active in Rome, where he was employed in many considerable works during the pontificates of Clement VIII and Paul V. The majority of his artworks are frescoes which can bee seen for instance in the Roman basilica Santa Maria Maggiore. In 1602 he completed 'Sacred Love Versus Profane Love', one of his most prominent works. The painting is seen as a counterpart to Caravaggio's Amor Vincit Omnia (1601-1602). The rivalry between these two artists was well known in Roman artist circles at the time.
  • Artist Place of Death: Rome, Italy
  • Artist Place of Birth: Rome, Italy
  • Artist Gender: male
  • Artist Dates: 1573/1643-12-30

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