Venus and Adonis

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

Date: 1560s

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


Tales from Ovid’s Metamorphoses inspired Titian to paint what he called poesie, or poetry in paint. Here, Venus tries to stop her lover from departing for the hunt, fearing—correctly—that he would be killed. The mood of sensuality, conveyed by the beautiful depiction of Venus from the back, enhances the viewer’s sense of the tragic end to this story, expressed through their exchanged glances and the frightened Cupid. Titian’s workshop made multiple versions of this composition, but this one is of exceptional quality and was painted by Titian himself.