One putti is a putto
. Putti are to cherubim
as putto is to cherub
. They are the same thing, anyway. They differ from Cupid
in that Cupid is the wingèd god
who shoots arrows
at people, and from angel
s in that angels
are more grown up.
It is the Italian word for "boy" taken from Vulgar Latin "puttus", which is from the original Latin "putus".
When represented in art, putti are often carved in wood or stone, sculpted in clay, or painted. They are the fat little wingèd children which are so common in later renaissance art.
The most famous picture of putti is that of Raphael's The Sistine Madonna. Stone or cement putti are often used as lawn ornaments now.
In the themes of art, putti represent love. Artists will include the presence of a putto to demonstrate tangibly the love literally between the two lovers. In later works, putto are usually placed subtly in the background.
An incomplete list of works that feature putti:
The Sistine Madonna Raphael 1513
Allegory of Sight Brueghel 1618
Peace and War Rubens 1629
The Swing Fragonard 1768