In this lecture, G. Pomata examines an allegorical painting by Paolo Veronese, conventionally called “Venus and Mars United by Love” (Metropolitan Museum, New York) and the unusual image of Venus lactans (lactating Venus) represented in the picture. Historians of art have been puzzled by this image, and no satisfactory interpretation has been advanced so far. G. Pomata offers a new interpretation of Veronese’s Venus lactans in two ways: first, by contextualizing the image in the Renaissance iconography of lactation; second, by examining the understanding of the female breast in 16th century medical discourse. In both contexts, pictorial and medical, she argues, the lactating breast was perceived not simply as a symbol of motherhood but as a locus of conjunction of the nutritive and the erotic, the maternal and the sexual.
EHESS (Salle 1)
190, avenue de France