Venus and Adonis
Venus and Adonis, ca. 1628
Oil on canvas
76.2 x 101 cm (30 x 39 3/4 inches)
Walter H. Kimball Fund, Georgianna Sayles Aldrich Fund, Mary B. Jackson Fund, Edgar J. Lownes Fund and Jesse Metcalf Fund 54.186
The literature, philosophy, and art of the ancient world were dominant resources for French history painters. In the story of Venus and Adonis, Venus has been pierced by Cupid’s arrow and has fallen in love with the beautiful young hunter Adonis. They are lulled by the music of a lyre as they recline in each other’s arms. The clouds that shade the oblivious lovers also carry a portent of a narrative twist. Surrounding the lovers, a band of mischievous cherubs restrain a rabbit that is chased and ultimately killed by Adonis’s ferocious dog. Heedless of Venus’s warnings, Adonis will soon become the victim of a wild boar and succumb to a similar fate.