The putto (known in plural as putti) is a figure in a work of art depicted as a chubby male child, usually naked and sometimes winged. Coming from the Italian word for the Latin word putus, or "boy" or "child", the putto was originally characterized as being metaphorical agents of fate, affecting human events invisible to those under their influence.
With artistic masters bringing back Greek and Roman imagery in The Renaissance, the putti would find a revival in paintings and sculptures, Christianity adopting the winged putto as a cherub, a type of angel of Abrahamic religions, and non-winged examples associated with the Baby Jesus.
More often than not, the winged putti are portrayed as a Cherubic Choir, flying en masse so that they could sing and play and be cute. Long after the Renaissance, modern pop culture often likes to portray the Roman god of love and desire Cupid as a winged putto, doing away with his association with sexuality in favor of a more chaste, innocent form of love. Because of this putti can sometimes be seen wielding a Sacred Bow shooting Cupid's Arrow.
For an Evil Counterpart for the putto, see Enfant Terrible and Fallen Cupid. See also Babies Make Everything Better.
Not to be confused with Filipino rice cakes or the Spanish word for a male prostitute, which are written with one T instead of two.
- Pokémon 2000: A ceiling in Lawrence III’s flying fortress has these painted on, much like that of The Beast’s ballroom mentioned in Films - Animation.
- "Cupid's Kiss" from Yu-Gi-Oh! GX is an equip spell-card used by Blair Flannigan in her duel against Jaden in Episode 20. The card is equipped onto "Maiden of Love", protecting the monster from being destroyed but still allows battle damage. The effect of this card then activates, allowing Blair to take control of "Avian". Later "Maiden in Love" attacks "Elemental HERO Sparkman". Due to the effect of "Maiden in Love", it is not destroyed, but Blair still takes Battle Damage. The effect of this card then activates, allowing Blair to take control of "Sparkman". The card itself is just an illustration of a blond-haired winged-cherub wearing white gauze for pants and wielding a bow with a heart-shaped arrow.
- Alexandre Cabanel's painting The Birth of Venus depicts Venus in a reclining position on the ocean waves as cherubs hover above her, playing music above her with conch-shells.
- William-Adolphe Bouguereau:
- The Birth of Venus (again, not the Botticelli one), depicts Venus in the shallow waters standing contrapposto accompanied by centaurs, nymphs and various winged putti. Two putti (said to be Cupid and Psyche) are seen messing with a porpoise, while the rest are seen flying amongst the clouds in the background.
- Charity is accompanied by five naked toddlers, three of them in her lap taking turns feeding.
- Cupid and Psyche as Children is an 1890 oil painting that depicts Cupid And Psyche of Classical Mythology as a pair of infants together in the clouds, Cupid with white angel wings and Psyche with moth wings.
- Drinking Bacchus by Guido Reni is a Baroque oil painting depicting the Roman god Bacchus as a putti wearing nothing but a crown of grapes and as he drinks wine from a bottle while urinating.
- Marie de' Medici Cycle: Two chubby baby-like angels are seen in the low left of "The Birth of the Princess". They're playing with a shield with the Medici crest on it.
- The Planet Venus: There are four wingless putti hovering around Venus, two of them floating by her legs to her left, two of them climbing along the top of the moon.
- The Prophet Isaiah is a fresco located in Basilica di Sant'Agostino, an early Renaissance church in Rome. It is an Italian Renaissance painting, influenced by Michelangelo's work on the Sistine Chapel ceiling. The painting depicts the titular prophet with a pair of nude boys flanking him, holding up a rope of green leaves over him.
- The Temptation of St. Anthony (Rops): A pair of winged cherubs are present in the upper lefthand corner of the piece, but their upper halves (including their wings) are skeletal in appearance, each of them carrying withered flowers with them.
- In the Raphael Sanzio fresco painting Triumph of Galatea, winged cherubs are found flying above Galatea, bows drawn and arrows pointing right at her.
- Venus, Cupid, Folly, and Time: A toddler is meant to represent "Folly", or foolishness, giving his "blessing" to Cupid and Venus by showering them with petals.
- Rococo painter Francois Boucher was famous for his putti paintings. Some of them depict them all by themselves like in L'Amour moissonneur and Putti with Birds, while in other cases they are ornamentation used to accompany other figures like Rinaldo and Armida and The Toilet of Venus.
- Various artistic depictions of Charity (allegorically depicted as a modestly dressed mother breastfeeding in reference to the Virgin Mary) depict her being crowded by many naked (and implicitly impoverished) toddlers, each taking turns being fed by her. The point of the image implies that these children (or at least not all of them) are not hers, selflessly giving her time, energy, and body for the good of others.
- Venus and Cupid by Artemisia Gentileschi portrays Cupid as a winged cherub fanning the sleeping Venus with a peacock-feather fan.
- In Venus and Cupid by Lorenzo Lotto, Cupid is depicted as a mischievous winged cherub accompanying Venus.
- There are a grand total of nine winged cherubs accompanying the woman in The Return of Spring.
- The Rape of Proserpina: A pair of putti are goading Pluto's horses to help Pluto escape with Proserpina.
- Primavera: Cupid is depicted as a winged babylike creature notching an arrow.
- In Enki Bilal's Nikopol trilogy, cherub-like animals have been brought to Earth from a colony planet by a ruler who thinks they're angels sent by God. He sends them to spy on his underlings and hopes they'll chase off the Egyptian gods that have been plaguing Paris.
- In God Is Dead a cherubim is lamenting the fact that popular conception has reduced it from it's traditional angelic appearance with multiple animals to a little putto, least of all because now bartenders won't let him drink. He takes some solace in that he can use his adorable cuteness to literally mind control people into doing whatever he wants, such as murder someone that pisses him off.
- In Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons, Aphrodite is accompanied by what appear to be dozens of them.
- Nell Brinkley filled her one-off comics (which tended to focus on romantic love and folly) with illustrations of putti, and her serial works are chock full of little winged cherubs as well:
- "Golden Eyes" and Her Hero "Bill": Golden Eyes is often accompanied by a cherubic personification of love who appears as a nude, tow-headed baby with wings (and occasionally wearing a Brodie helmet). Though she's scrambling through trenches and risking her life driving a Red Cross ambulance through active war zones, the narration reminds readers that "LOVE" is always watching over her as she fights alongside her beloved Bill.
- The Adventures of Prudence Prim: Putti appear to augment Prudence's romantic moods and add a comedic element to the series by reacting to her escapades.
- The Fortunes of Flossie: Putti tend to appear when Flossie and her boyfriend have an exceptionally romantic moment.
- In the "Pastoral Symphony" segment of Fantasia, putti serve as matchmakers for the centaurettes.
- Beauty and the Beast: The ceiling of the ballroom in the Beast's castle is decorated with winged putti, one of them holding a Cupid's Arrow.
- In Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian, Larry and Amelia encounter a trio of stone cherubs (voiced by The Jonas Brothers) brought to life by the Tablet of Ahkmenrah. They do nothing but sing love songs in their direction, their role as love gods trying to encourage their budding relationship. Larry is unable to appreciate the music on account of the fact that at the time, they are trying to hide from a group of French soldiers out to get them. They later reappear after their First Kiss, continuing to serenade "My Heart Will Go On" to them much to Larry's annoyance.
- Doctor Who: In "The Angels Take Manhattan", it is revealed that Weeping Angels take the form of winged putti during their larval stage.
- On Parks and Recreation, Jerry makes a painting of Leslie as a Greek goddess; it also depicts Tom as a putto, much to his embarrassment.
- In Warhammer 40,000 Cherubs are a type of familiar servitor (essentially a type of biological computer assistant) used by various imperial factions, from Space marines to Sisters of Battle to the Inquisition. They're suppose to be made to resemble Putti in appearance and are made from vat-grown baby bodies that are lobotomized and enhanced with cybernetics, which include a pair of fake wings and an anti-grav generator to keep them aloft. However the process is imperfect and the bodies often degenerate into looking like an angry, pudgy men instead of an angelic baby. Coupled with their animal-level intelligence this actually makes them kinda horrifying to watch in action.
- Helluva Boss: C.H.E.R.U.B. are the heavenly counterparts to I.M.P. Despite cherubs actually being the second-highest angel rank in Christian doctrine, cherubs in this universe are implied to be low-ranking, and are designed after putti in art, who were conflated with cherubs. While their leader Cletus looks like the typical young boy, the others are designed after cutesy animals like sheep and deer. In contrast to I.M.P., they protect humans at the request of those in Heaven. However, when they finally lose their cool and get into a fight with the imps, resulting in the death of the man they were supposed to be protecting, their superiors bar them from returning to Heaven.
- Homestar Runner: Strong Bad refers to cherubs as "wingaling babies."
- In Hercules: The Animated Series, the love god Cupid is portrayed as something of a Manchild in a diaper and wings, while his cherubs looks more like the traditional idea of the putti. They act as his helpers not unlike Santa Claus and his elves, helping manufacture love arrows and distributing them all across Greece (and presumably Rome and some parts of Persia). They are all portrayed the same; blond-haired, high-voiced, dedicated to love and is accompanied by pigeon coo-noises.
- South Park: Cupid Cartman is a tiny winged cherub version of Cartman who is constantly naked and even fatter than the average putto.
- Steven Universe:
- Aquamarines are a gem-type who are aesthetically similar to the idea of cherubs. They are about the size of a human toddler (though all gems are born as adults) and are characterized by having small fairy-wings made of water which gives them flight capabilities. The exact details of their intended purpose are never given, though the Aquamarine introduced in "Are You My Dad?" implies that they all have good memory and are aristocratic members of Homeworld's caste system and considered retrieving humans from Earth for the Human Zoo to be beneath her. More Aquamarines are seen in "Together Alone" pulling up the curtains for the Diamond's formal introductions, evoking imagery of putti accompanying goddesses (which gems see the Diamonds as). Ironically, the one Aquamarine that's been important to the plot is cruel and narcissistic.
- Vidalia's painted depiction of Garnet and Steven from "Pool Hopping" portrays both of them floating in pink clouds, Steven himself portrayed as a nude winged cherub throwing rose petals on Garnet. Considering Steven is a Messianic Archetype who acts as a positive influence on everyone around him, this is likely deliberate symbolism by the animators.