Verum est quod legitur fronte capillata, sed plerumque sequitur occasio calvata.
We see Venus the same afternoon she won the Golden Apple. She is there, alone in the forest, reflecting on how she won the prize: through a bribe. Cupid, who remains near her but out of sight, playfully throws an arrow at the apple, pinning it to the frame of a mirror in which she observes herself.
When she realizes what fate has in store for her (something already represented by Bronzino), she falls to her knees in front of her haughty image of triumph, which remains unperturbed on the other side of the mirror.
This piece is loaded with symbolism: the porcelain, like the bald head, represents the fragility and nakedness of the soul in front of the mirror, which in turn symbolizes contemplation. The twisted tree precariously holding the mirror is the tortuousness of the means to achieve victory and all the possible bifurcations resulting from free will; its flat leaves, without movement, represent the superficiality of beauty itself when not touched by wisdom.
Cupid’s presence is embodied in the arrow that pierces the Golden Apple, symbolizing another future penetration; that incestuous transgression already imagined by Bronzino 1545.
To the right we can glimpse a dry plant, still standing but withered amidst the lustful presence of grass all over the ground: even among the privilege of the gods, some of them can fall into disgrace, and be beautiful even when they are already condemned.
This artwork is available here.