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Venus visits Aesculapius to ask him to remove a thorn from her foot. Collotype after Sir E.J. Poynter, ca. 1880.

Poynter, Edward John, 1836-1919.

Where to find it

About this work


The subject of the poem is as described in the verses "In time long past..." quoted from Thomas Watson, The Hekatompathia or passionate centurie of love, London: emprinted by John Wolfe for Gabriell Cawood, 1582, chapter XX. Watson summarises it in his introit as follows: "In this passion the author being joyful for a kiss, which he had received of his love, compareth the same unto that kiss, which sometime Venus bestowed upon Aesculapius, for having taken a bramble out of her foot, which pricked her through the hidden spiteful deceit of Diana, by whom it was laid in her way, as Strozza writeth. And he enlargeth his invention upon the French proverbial speech, which importeth thus much in effect, that three things proceed from the mouth which are to be had in high account: breath, speech, and kissing; the first argueth a man's life; the second, his thought; the third and last, his love."



Physical description

1 print : collotype ; image and mount 71.3 x 93.2 cm


Wellcome Library no. 574926i

Publications note

Algernon Graves, The Royal Academy of Arts; a complete dictionary of contributors, vol. VI, London 1906, p. 198 ("A visit to Aesculapius. "In time long past, when in Dianae's chase etc."")

Christie's, Important Victorian & British Impressionist Art, London, 11 July 2013, lot 38 (watercolour of this composition, 1875)

Creator/production credits

Poynter refers the story to Thomas Watson (1555–1592), who in turn attributed it to Strozzi: Tito Vespasiano Strozzi, 'Ad Pollicianum, cur rosa grata Veneri, sit, ac rubra', in his Aeolostichon lib. IV (Strozii poetae pater et filius, Venice: Aldus Manutius, 1513, pp. 123-124)

Reproduction note

After a composition painted by Poynter in two versions: a small watercolour signed and dated 1875, and a large oil painting exhibited at the Royal Academy in 1880 (exhibition no. 250: Graves, loc. cit.). The watercolour is signed and dated '18EJP75' (lower left) and inscribed 'E. J. Poynter R.A. / Venus Aesculapius / In time long past when in Diana's chase / a bramble bush prickt Venus in the foote / Olde Aesculapius healpt her heavie case / Before the hurte had taken any roote: / Wherehence although his beard was crisping hard / her she yielded him delight for his rewarde', according to Christie's, loc. cit. The oil painting was acquired by the Chantrey bequest and given to the Tate Gallery


.1 and .2 are duplicates.



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