"Cronos clips Cupid's wings".


What did old Pierre Mignard really intend to communicate at the age of 82? Let's see, because it's not so clear.

Jordi Garcia

Director at kingseo.

A few days ago I came across this painting and I was struck by its capacity for visual communication. Of course, me talking about art, without being anything of the sort. 

I want to share with you this ability to communicate and my reading, which may be wrong, of course. That judgment is in your hands. But I think the matter is interesting.

Here we go. 

Pierre Mignard was a French painter of the seventeenth century quite recognized, his works are exhibited in the Louvre, he has a fresco in Versailles and, as I have read, there is also a painting of his exposed in the Prado Museum. This particular painting, Cronos cuts Cupid's wings, was painted when he was 82 years old, one year before his death. And this fact seems to me relevant for its interpretation, we will see later.

"Love conquers all, but time conquers love."

In the painting we can observe Cronos, lord and god of time. He is identified by his wings, beard, hourglass and scythe. Cronos is clipping the wings of Cupid (Eros), the god of love or amorous desire. Who in turn is represented by a winged boy carrying a bow and a quiver of arrows. 

The meaning of the painting is that time kills love. And from this point we could develop it, but it is not my intention. Let each one receive it and digest it with its particular meaning. 

There are later paintings that redound and reinforce this idea of Cronos clipping Cupid's wings, or time killing love. However, there are other readings.

I think this work has more nuances in its communication. I would like to think that the 82 year old Pierre was serene and wise enough not to remain in such an abrupt message, in such a pessimistic idea. 

Does time really kill love? Meh, I don't know.

The rebellious and capricious child. 

Cupid is a rebellious and capricious child, just look at his face. 

Cupid being a bit unbearable.

He is not suffering, he is upset. He is annoyed that he is not allowed to continue with his outrages.

Cronos, on the other hand, shows himself without anger. He looks more like a wise man with a benevolent gesture. His posture is firm but casual.

Cronos (Saturn) is calm.

I am not sure it is an act of violence, but rather an act of education.

Let's analyze more elements:

Pierre Mignard "Cronos cuts Cupid's wings" (1694)

Cupid's arrows and bow are well placed to one side. On the ground we see feathers, apparently fallen one by one, without blood or violence. The scythe on the ground, discarded, is not the tool he uses, but in his hand he carries rather a kind of scissors for shearing sheep.

Old shearing shears.

It appears to be plucking feathers, which is not the same as clipping wings. 

There are differences, for example, with this later chart:

Ivan Akimov "Saturn Clipping Cupid's Wings" (1802)

Time does not kill love, it puts its feet on the ground.

Cupid represents love more idealized than realistic. Innocent, rebellious, energetic and unbridled love. But over time, that love is molded, educated and matures. 

Little by little, love understands that reality is not always ideal and therefore stops idealizing it. Of course it still has wings, but they are no longer for flying. 

Love, when educated, learns to be, calmly, in the place and form that last in time.

What a fantasy of a painting, Pierre.