Venus and Adonis (Titian, Rome)

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Venus and Adonis
Artist Titian
Year c. 1560
Medium Oil on canvas
Dimensions 187 cm × 184 cm (74 in × 72 in)
Location Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica, Rome

Venus and Adonis is a painting by the Italian late Renaissance artist Titian, executed around 1560. It is currently housed in the Galleria Nazionale d'Arte Antica in Rome. It is one of the numerous version of the same subject.

According to the German artist Friedrich Müller, the painting was commissioned by Emperor Charles V and housed in Prague. Later, King Gustavus Adolphus of Sweden sent it to Stockholm; when the Swedish queen Christina of Sweden abdicated, she took the painting with her to Rome (1654). After her death, it was inherited by Cardinal Decio Azzolino; later it was acquired by the French regent Philippe II of Orléans and by the Russian emperor Paul I.

It returned to Italy from Saint Petersburg thanks to the Venetian merchant Pietro Concolo, to be eventually bought by the Roman prince Giovanni Torlonia. In 1862 it was acquired by the collection of Palazzo Barberini, to which it currently belongs.


The painting's subject is taken from Ovid, though with modifications (Adonis leaves Venus, and not vice versa).

It portrays a young Adonis, at dawn, with an unusual hunter berret, 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 the background is depicted a stormy sky, a hint to the tragedy which, according to Ovid's myth, is going to occur to Adonis.

See also[edit]


  • Panofsky, Erwin (1969). Tiziano. Problemi di iconologia (in Italian). Venice: Marsilio.