Giorgio Ghisi (Italian, Mantuan, ca. 15201582), after Teodoro Ghisi (Italian, Mantuan, 15361601)
Engraving; second state; plate 12 1/2 x 8 3/4 in. (31.8 x 22.3 cm)
The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1953 (53.522.28)
Ovid tells us that Venus, grazed by Cupid's arrow, fell in love with Adonis and urged him not to hunt dangerous animals (Metamorphoses 10.519ff.). Ignoring her advice, the handsome youth was killed by a wild boar. In antiquity, Adonis was worshipped as a god of the seasons who spent each winter in the Underworld and returned each spring, causing Venus, equated with the earth's fertility, to rejoice. In Ghisi's engraving, based on his brother's design, we see Adonis' dead body being nuzzled by the boar near a bare tree in the background. In the foreground, Adonis receives Venus' caresses in a verdant bower, his foot resting on the boar's head to demonstrate his victory over winter.