Venus and Adonis

Object Details

Title:

Venus and Adonis

Artist/Maker(s):

Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (Italian, 1656 - 1740)

Culture:

Italian

Place(s):

Florence, Tuscany, Italy (Place created)

Date:

about 1715 - 1716

Medium:

Bronze

Dimensions:

46.4 x 48.9 x 34.3 cm (18 1/4 x 19 1/4 x 13 1/2 in.)

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On a rocky, stagelike, surface, Adonis lies mortally wounded after being attacked by a boar while his lover, the goddess Venus, rushes in to tend him. Her fluttering drapery indicating that she has just landed, Venus leans over the youth, already seeing death in his eyes. In the foreground, a tearful putto examines Adonis's wound; behind, a putto pulls Adonis's dog away from the dead boar.

Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi closely followed Ovid's Metamorphoses, a classical text that was much read in Baroque Italy. The choice of bronze also suggests an interest in classical culture. This rendition, however, is full of Baroque drama and movement. In particular, the bronze's flamboyant, tragic tone and shallow, frontal composition recall theatrical and operatic productions of the time.

Soldani-Benzi was known as one of the finest bronze casters in Florence, frequently casting works of other sculptors. Venus and Adonisis one of his few original mythological groups. This tabletop sculpture originally formed a pair with another, now-lost bronze couple, Tancred and Clorinda, historical figures immortalized in Tasso's epic poem, Gerusalemme Liberata.

Provenance

Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Strafford (of the second creation, 1711), 1672 - 1739 (England)

1739 -

By descent to the Heirs of Thomas Wentworth, first earl of Strafford (of the second creation, 1711), 1672 - 1739 (Wrotham Hall, Middlesex, England)

- 1992

By descent to Julian Byng (Wrotham Hall, Middlesex, England)

1992

Christie's (London) (London, England) [December 8, 1992, lot 108], to Cyril Humphris, London.

1992

Cyril Humphris, S.A., sold to J. Paul Getty Museum.

Bibliography

Pratesi, Giovanni, ed. Repertorio della scultura fiorentina del seicento e settecento (Turin: Umberto Allemandi & C., 1993) vol. 1, p. 102.

Russell, Francis, ed. Christie's: Review of the Season, 1993 (London, 1993), pp. 136-37.

"Acquisitions/1993." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 22 (1994), p. 102, no. 70.

"Principles Aquisitions des Musées en 1993." Gazette des Beaux-Arts (March 1994), p. 54, fig. 238.

Fogelman, Peggy. "Acquisitions: Sculpture and Works of Art." J. Paul Getty Museum Calendar (winter 1993-94), unpaginated.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 4th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 262, ill.

Fusco, Peter. Summary Catalogue of European Sculpture in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 48, ill.

Bassett, Jane, and Peggy Fogelman. Looking at European Sculpture: A Guide to Technical Terms (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 90.

Fusco, Peter, Peggy Anne Fogelman, and Marietta Cambareri. Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: European Sculpture (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998), pp. 86-87, no. 29, ill., entry by Peter Fusco.

Avery, Charles. "Lord Burlington and the Florentine Baroque Bronze Sculptor Soldani: New Documentation on the Anglo-Florentine Art Trade in the Age of the Grand Tour." In Lord Burlington: The Man and His Politics. E. Corp, ed. (Lewiston, N.Y., 1998), pp. 33, 46-47, fig. 8.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 263, ill.

Fogelman, Peggy and Peter Fusco with Marietta Cambareri. Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2002), pp. 268-76, no. 34, pp. 362-63.

Italian and Spanish Sculpture: Catalogue of the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2002), pp. 268-276, ills. 34-34A, 34C-34G.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 219, ill.