Aphrodite (or Venus to the Romans) is thought to have been born near Paphos, on the island of Cyprus. According to Greek myth, Uranus and Gaia had a son named Cronus. The parents fought and Gaia created a stone sickle, which she gave to Cronus to attack his father. Cronus castrated Uranus and threw his father’s testicles into the sea. They caused the sea to foam and out of that white foam rose Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty.
This is the story George Cruikshank chose to paint in his late sixties or early seventies. Two versions have been identified, one in the Graphic Arts collection at Princeton University and the other at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Neither has a date on the work itself but the Princeton records assign the work to the year 1860. This may once have been on the verso of the board on which it is painted but unfortunately, the painting has been glued to another wooden support, so this information cannot be checked.
Cruikshank owned this stipple engraving by Thomas Hollis, which may have served, in a small part, as inspiration for his own design.
Thomas Hollis (1818-1843) after a painting by Richard Westall (1765-1836), The Boar that Killed Adonis Brought to Venus, 1833-43. Stipple engraving. British Museum