Luis Ricardo Falero: The Planet Venus, 1882, digital transcription
Luis Falero trained in Paris as a portraitist and developed a fascination for painting highly detailed renderings of the female nude. His hyper-realist style often set women in fantastical or mythological settings.
In The Planet Venus Falero presents both the actual planet in its crescent phase, as well as a physical representation of the goddess of love and beauty. Here the voluptuous maiden “Venus” floats before her luminous planet, her long golden tresses cascading down her back. She gently presses her left breast, a gesture drawing attention to her feminine form and implying her sexual fertility. Four putti hover beside her, seemingly tumbling down the smooth edge of the pearlescent planet, into the folds of the pale aubergine cloth swirling about them. This fabric perhaps evokes the beautiful swirl of clouds that famously surrounds the planet Venus.
Venus is the only planet named for a female and one of the five planets visible to the naked eye (Mercury, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter are the other four). After the moon, it is the brightest natural object in the night sky. As it moves around its orbit, Venus displays phases like those of the Moon: Falero shows Venus in a “thin crescent” as it comes around to the near side between the Earth and the Sun.