Venus and Adonis

Artist: Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, Pieve di Cadore ca. 1485/90?–1576 Venice)

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: 42 x 52 1/2 in. (106.7 x 133.4 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: The Jules Bache Collection, 1949

Accession Number: 49.7.16


Titian was often inspired by tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses for the paintings he called poesie, poetry in paint. The goddess Venus has fallen in love with Adonis, a handsome hunter. She foresees that the hunt will be fatal for him, and tries in vain to restrain him from leaving with his hunting dogs. The mood of sensuality created by the beautiful view of Venus seen from the back (inspired by a Roman relief sculpture) barely distracts the viewer from the tragic end of the tale. Titian and his studio returned to the composition, varying it, in numerous paintings from the mid-1540s until the end of his life. This version was painted at the end of his career and its high quality shows that it was carried out by the artist himself.