Venus and Adonis (Titian, Madrid)

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Venus and Adonis
Venus and Adonis by Titian.jpg
Artist Titian
Year c. 1553
Type Oil on canvas
Dimensions 186 cm × 207 cm (73 in × 81 in)
Location Museo del Prado, Madrid

Venus and Adonis is a subject painted by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian, of which the second version is now in Madrid's Museo del Prado. Executed in Venice in the 1550s, it was part of a series of mythological paintings called "poesie" ("poems") intended for King Philip II of Spain. Venus and Adonis was designed to be viewed alongside Danaë, a painting from the same series with a related composition, and both works are currently in the same room.

The painting now in Madrid has been identified lately as being the replacement copy of the original which was damaged during delivery to King Philip II. Current thinking is that the original is the so-called Lausanne version, which in 2007 was exhibited for the first time in 200 years at a major scientific exhibition of Titian paintings in Belluno.

Titian paintings on display in the Museo del Prado (from left to right: Danaë and the Shower of Gold, The Worship of Venus, Bacchanal of the Andrians, and Venus and Adonis)

After replacing the damaged original, Titian went on to paint other versions of the same subject.

The painting is based on the legend of Ovid, though with modifications (Adonis leaves Venus, and not vice versa). It portrays a young Adonis, at dawn, with his dogs, leaving Venus, who desperately tries to keep him with her. The scene symbolizes the force of the hunt call, in turn a metaphor of life and of worldly affairs, which is stronger than that of love (embodied by Eros, sleeping under trees on the left). In contrast to the later version in Rome, the background features a shining sun emerging from the clouds in an only partially overcast sky.

See also[edit]

The Prado also has a Venus and Adonis by Veronese.


  • Gentili, A. (1990). Tiziano (in Italian). Florence.