Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, 15771640)
Oil on canvas; With added strips, 77 3/4 x 95 5/8 in. (197.5 x 242.9 cm)
Gift of Harry Payne Bingham, 1937 (37.162)
Venus, assisted by Cupid, vainly tries to restrain her mortal lover Adonis from setting off for the hunt, knowing that if he does so, he will be killed by a wild boar. The painting is inspired by Titian's picture of the same subject in the Prado, Madrid, which Rubens saw and copied during his stay there in 162829 (a version of Titian's painting hangs in the Metropolitan Museum [49.7.16]). The broad execution and vivid color of the present painting indicate a date in the mid- or late 1630s. Radiographs reveal that Rubens gave Adonis a somber expression, which was repainted at a later date. The picture was presented by Emperor Joseph I to the first duke of Marlborough.