Venus and Adonis (1550 – 1559) by Titian

Venus and Adonis - Titian - 1550 - 1559

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Artwork Information

TitleVenus and Adonis
Date1550 - 1559
Dimensions134 x 187 cm
Art MovementMannerism (Late Renaissance)
Current LocationNational Gallery of Ancient Art (GNAA), Rome, Italy

About Venus and Adonis

The artwork “Venus and Adonis” is an oil on canvas painting by Titian, created during the period of 1550 – 1559. Known as a quintessential piece of the Mannerism movement, which marks the Late Renaissance era, the painting stands at an impressive size of 134 x 187 cm. It falls within the genre of mythological painting, and it is currently housed at the National Gallery of Ancient Art (GNAA) in Rome, Italy.

The artwork portrays the mythological characters Venus, the goddess of love, and Adonis, her mortal lover. In this vivid scene, Venus appears to be attempting to restrain Adonis from leaving. She is depicted in a reclined position, extending an arm and wrapping it around Adonis in a tender yet futile effort to hold him back. Adonis is shown standing, his body poised as if he is about to move forward. He gently clasps Venus’s outstretched hand, suggesting a moment of hesitation or a gentle farewell.

In the background, a cherub can be spotted in the trees, adding a touch of innocence or foreboding to the composition, which corresponds to the nature of their doomed love story. The sky features a dramatic element with rays of light piercing through clouds, possibly alluding to divine intervention or fate. Two hunting dogs are also present by Adonis’s side, reinforcing his position as a hunter and emphasizing the dangerous pursuit that ultimately leads to his tragic fate. The lush landscapes, the interaction between human and divine forms, as well as the sense of movement and emotion, are characteristic of Renaissance art, with Titian’s use of color and form contributing to the powerful rendering of this classic myth.

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