Venus and Adonis

Artist: Peter Paul Rubens (Flemish, Siegen 1577–1640 Antwerp)

Date: probably mid-1630s

Medium: Oil on canvas

Dimensions: With added strips, 77 3/4 x 95 5/8 in. (197.5 x 242.9 cm)

Classification: Paintings

Credit Line: Gift of Harry Payne Bingham, 1937

Accession Number: 37.162


The subject is from Ovid’s Metamorphoses (completed 8 A.D). Accidently pricked by one of Cupid’s arrows, Venus fell in love with the handsome hunter Adonis. Rubens shows their leave-taking—a Renaissance embellishment famously depicted by Titian (see his canvas in Gallery 607). With manly indifference to the goddess’s charms and her warnings of danger, Adonis hunted a wild boar and was gored to death. Except for its conclusion, the story was well suited to decorate grand country houses, where the chase occupied noblemen indoors and out.