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.