Venus and Adonis

Veronese is another of the great 16th-century Venetian masters. A forefather of Baroque painting, his work is known for its large architectural features in the background, with great balustrades, colonnades and splendid facades which appear to frame his subjects, who are always richly dressed. It also features the bright colours that were the hallmark of Venetian painters. Veronese was in fact tried by the Inquisition, who felt that he painted religious themes in too frivolous a manner.

The myth of Venus and Adonis is a tragic love story. After being shot with an arrow by Cupid, Venus fell passionately in love with the young and handsome Adonis. The goddess, much like many women of the time, had to fight for her beloved’s attention against his other great passion, hunting, so she decided to come down from Olympus and accompany him.

The painter shows Adonis resting in Venus’ lap. The goddess senses that he is in danger, and tries to retain him there. She is holding a forerunner of the fan, with which she is fanning her lover. While one of the hounds is resting quietly, the other appears to have smelled the wild boar, and is about to leap at the prey, but Cupid is holding it back. The story ends badly, however: Adonis wakes up and fires an arrow at the boar, which turns on him and kills him. The Goddess reaches him just in time to embrace him and to promise that from his blood a flower will spring. The flower is the anemone, which is very beautiful but short-lived, just like Adonis.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns