It also has different names:
“The Toilet of Venus”, “Venus at her Mirror”, “Venus and Cupid”,”Rokeby Venus” or “La Venus del espejo”.
It is not very clear where he did the painting, some people say that he did it before his second trip to Italy and others say that he painted it during he’s visit in Italy. It was painted between 1647 and 1651. This painting was not commissioned by anyone .It was just a painting that Velázquez did.
The Venus at her mirror's size is 122,5 x 177 cm. It is painted on oil on canvas. The painting is in the National Gallery, London.
It is a mythological painting. This painting is representing the goddess Venus in a sensual pose lying on a bed and looking into a mirror held by her son, Cupid. The painting describes Venus as she is looking at herself in the mirror, but we can’t see that, what we see is that Venus is looking at us. It is painted in a room. We can see a clear contrast between light and shadow. The warm colors were: pink, white, grey, black and red colors to create a fine illumination of the body. The darkness of the sheets givse to the painting big contrast with Venus skin, making it look lustrous. Velázquez went to Italy and there he painted in a different style, his painting is an influence of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus and Titian’s Venus of Urbino. As his painting recived the influence of the other paintings, he painted his Venus mixing the postures of the other Venuses made by other painters . His Venus was considerated as a personification of the female beauty.
Venus at her mirror, Paul Peter Rubens
Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus
In that period the models of the other paintings were representing ideal beauty with wide hips meaingt that they ate well, but Velazquez Venus was fit and this was not common in that period, she also has a modern hairstyle. The only thing that made this woman a goddess is the presence of his children Cupid .
This painting was made in the Baroque because the technique used in this painting is foreshortened and realistic because Venus is not looking directly at the viewer, she is represent with her back , in a foreshortened position.
This is the only surviving nude painting of Velázquez because in the 17th century it was rare to see a nude painting in the Hispanic Monarchy (also because the Inquisiton controlled art and morality).
In 1914 Mary Richardson went to the museum where this painting is located and attacked Velázquez's painting with a cleaver. She left seven marks on the canvas . When they asked her why she has done that she said: "I have tried to destroy the picture of the most beautiful woman in mythological history as a protest against the Government for destroying Mrs. Pankhurst, who is the most beautiful character in modern history."[
Velázquez self portrait: