Venus and Adonis

Object Details

Title:

Venus and Adonis

Artist/Maker(s):

Titian (Tiziano Vecellio) (Italian, about 1487 - 1576)

Culture:

Italian

Date:

about 1555 - 1560

Medium:

Oil on canvas

Dimensions:

160 x 196.5 cm (63 x 77 3/8 in.)

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The goddess Venus tries to restrain her lover Adonis from going off to the hunt. She clings to him, imploring him not to go, but Adonis looks down at her impassively. His dogs strain at their leashes, echoing his impatience, as detailed in the tragic love story found in Ovid's Metamorphoses. Cupid sleeps in the background, a symbol of Adonis's resistance to Venus's entreaties, since his ineffective arrows hang uselessly in a tree. The story ends tragically; during the hunt the mortal Adonis is fatally gored by a wild boar.

Titian's loose, energetic strokes of paint give the painting a sense of spontaneity and movement. In some areas, the artist even painted with his finger, as seen in Adonis's arm. The composition's dynamism springs from the torsion caused by Venus's awkward pose, which was inspired by an ancient sculptural relief. Titian used rich colors, shimmering highlights, and a lush landscape to create the painting's evocative, poignant mood.

Provenance
- 1648

Giovanni Vincenzo Imperiale, 1582 - 1648 (Genoa, Italy), by inheritance to his heirs, 1648.

1648 - 1665

Heirs of Giovanni Vincenzo Imperiale, 1582 - 1648 (Genoa, Italy), sold to Francesco Maria Balbi, 1665.

1665 -

Francesco Maria Balbi, 1619 - 1704 (Genoa, Italy), sold to Christina, queen of Sweden.

- 1689

Queen Christina of Sweden, 1626 - 1689 (Stockholm, Sweden; Rome, Italy), by bequest to Decio Azzolino, 1689.

1689

Cardinal Decio Azzolino, 1623 - 1689 (Rome, Italy), by inheritance to Pompeo Azzolino, 1689.

1689 - 1696

Marchese Pompeo Azzolino, died 1696 (Rome, Italy), sold to Livio Odescalchi, 1696.

1696 - 1713

Prince Livio Odescalchi, died 1713 (Rome, Italy), by inheritance to Baldassare Erba Odescalchi, 1713.

1713 - 1721

Baldassare Erba Odescalchi, died 1746 (Rome, Italy), sold to Pierre Crozat, 1721.

1721

Pierre Crozat, French, 1665 - 1740 (Paris, France)

- 1723

Philippe II, duc d'Orléans and regent of France, 1674 - 1723 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his son, Louis, 1723.

1723 - 1752

Louis, duc d'Orléans, 1703 - 1752 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his son, Louis-Philippe, 1752.

1752 - 1785

Louis-Philippe, duc d'Orléans, 1725 - 1785 (Paris, France), by inheritance to his son, Louis-Philippe-Joseph, 1785.

1785 - 1792

Louis-Philippe-Joseph, duc d'Orléans, 1747 - 1793 (Paris, France), sold to Édouard de Walkuers, 1792.

1792

Vicomte Édouard de Walkuers (Brussels, Belgium), sold to François-Louis-Joseph de Laborde-Méréville, 1792.

1792 - 1793

François-Louis-Joseph de Laborde-Méréville, 1761 - 1802 (Paris, France; London, England), consigned to Jeremiah Harman, 1793.

1793 - 1798

Jeremiah Harman, about 1764 - 1844 (London, England) [sold, Orléans collection sale, Bryan, London, December 26, 1798, lot 224, to a consortium of George Granville Leveson-Gower, Frederick Howard, and Francis Egerton.]

1798

George Granville Leveson-Gower, first duke of Sutherland, 1758 - 1833

1798

and Francis Egerton, third duke of Bridgewater, 1736 - 1803 (London, England)

1798

and Frederick Howard, fifth earl of Carlisle, 1748 - 1825 (London, England), upon purchase, Frederick Howard selected this painting as part of his share.

1798 -

Frederick Howard, fifth earl of Carlisle, 1748 - 1825 (Castle Howard, North Yorkshire, England)

1799 - 1844

Mr. FitzHugh

1844 - 1868

Welbore Ellis Agar, second earl of Normanton, 1778 - 1868 (Somerley, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar, 1868.

1868 - 1896

James Charles Herbert Welbore Ellis Agar, third earl of Normanton, 1818 - 1896 (Somerley, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to Henry Fox, 1896.

1896 - 1933

Henry Fox, first baron Holland, 1705 - 1774 (Somerley, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to Edward John Sidney Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, 1933.

1933 - 1967

Edward John Sidney Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, fifth earl of Normanton, 1910 - 1967 (Somerley, Hampshire, England), by inheritance to Shaun James Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, 1967.

1967 - 1991

Shaun James Christian Welbore Ellis Agar, sixth earl of Normanton, born 1945 (Somerley, Hampshire, England) [sold, Normanton sale, Christie's, London, December 13, 1991, lot 85, to Hazlitt, Gooden and Fox Ltd., London, and H. Shickman Gallery.]

1991 - 1992

H. Shickman Gallery (New York, New York)

1991 - 1992

and Hazlitt, Gooden & Fox Ltd. (New York, New York; London, England), sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1992.

Exhibitions
Exhibition of Works by the Old Masters, and by Deceased Masters of the British School: Winter Exhibition, Thirteenth Year (January 2 to March 11, 1882) (cat. 146)
  • Royal Academy of Arts (London), January 2 to March 11, 1882
L'Età di Rubens: dimore, committenti e collezionisti genovesi (March 20 to July 11, 2004) (cat. 71)
  • Palazzo Ducale (Genova), March 20 to July 11, 2004
Titian, Tintoretto, Veronese: Rivals in Renaissance Venice (March 15, 2009 to January 5, 2010) (cat. 33)
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, March 15 to August 16, 2009
Bibliography

Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Treasures of Art in Great Britian: Being an Account of the Chief Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Illuminated Mss., &c., &c. 3 vols. (London: John Murray, 1854), vol. 2, p. 497, no. 14.

Waagen, Gustav Friedrich. Galleries and Cabinets of Art in Great Britain: Being an Account of More than Forty Collections of Paintings, Drawings, Sculptures, Mss. Visited in 1854 and 1856, and Now for the First Time Described (London: John Murray, 1857), p. 366.

Redford, George. Art Sales: A History of Sales of Pictures and Other Works of Art. With Notices of the Collections Sold, Names of Owners, Titles of Pictures, Prices and Purchasers. 2 vols. (London: Bradbury, Agnew, & Co., 1888), vol. 1, p. 74.

"Acquisitions/1992." The J. Paul Getty Museum Journal 21 (1993), p. 117, no. 22.

Fredericksen, Burton B., et al. Masterpieces of Painting in the J. Paul Getty Museum. 3rd ed. (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), unpaginated, no. 11, ill., entry by David Jaffé.

Jaffé, David. Summary Catalogue of European Paintings in the J. Paul Getty Museum (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1997), p. 125, ill.

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 6th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2001), p. 103, ill.

Education Resources

Education Resource

Subjects

Grades

Format

Looking at Narrative Art Lesson 1: What Are Stories?

Students discover how visual artists represent a story by depicting a single moment from it.

Visual Arts; English–Language Arts; ESL (English as a Second Language)

Adult Learners

Single Class Lesson

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