Venus and Adonis

Object Details


Venus and Adonis


Massimiliano Soldani-Benzi (Italian, 1656 - 1740)




Florence, Tuscany, Italy (Place created)


about 1715 - 1716




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.


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)


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


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