Titian - Venus and Adonis

by Alexandra Tuschka


A naked beauty tries to stop the young man who wants to go hunting here with his gun and dogs. Venus, who fell in love with the young and beautiful Adonis because Cupid's arrow hit her, had been warned. Adonis would die while hunting. Despite all her efforts, she did not succeed in stopping him and so Adonis perishes during the hunt.

Titian chose a tragic moment in the Adonis narrative because the viewer knows the outcome of the story. Although the most beautiful of women is naked, Venus is unable to persuade Adonis to stay. Nor does Cupid support his mother - he has leaned against a tree and is asleep - would love have triumphed with his help?


Stormy seems the departure Adonis. The hounds are already setting in motion and moving out to hunt. Venus is depicted in an expressive gesture with twisted posture; Venus' attribute , the amphora, has fallen over.


Titian himself called this, along with a few other paintings intended for Phillip II of Spain, "poetry," as he poetically visualized a mythological subject.

The Italian works with many contrasts - the naked, soft, light and feminine body is contrasted with the clothed, hard and masculine one. And the affects are also gender-specific: Venus mimes the weak, loving and caring woman; Adonis the strong man who sets off to work. The inevitability of his fate is omnipresent. The scene is also reflected in the sky, a dark cloud cover breaks open, the sun god Apollo appears with the first rays of the sun.


Titian - Venus and Adonis

Oil on canvas, ca. 1553, 186 x 207 cm, Prado in Madrid

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