Venus and Adonis
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Simon Vouet
French, about 1642
Oil on canvas
51 1/4 x 37 1/4 in.

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Venus, the goddess of love, and her lover Adonis meet each other's eyes, their bodies still half entwined. Holding his spear, the young mortal Adonis sits upright, anxious to be off to the hunt while his dog waits patiently at his side. Venus touches his shoulder, imploring him not to go. In so doing, she reclines slightly backwards as if to pull him closer. To her left a pair of doves, Venus's attribute, symbolize love and constancy.

Paintings like this one were popular with sophisticated art patrons in Paris, where Simon Vouet returned in 1627 after spending years in Rome. He absorbed the lessons of Italian Baroque painting and continued to use bright, decorative colors; Adonis wears a yellow-gold robe over a fuchsia-colored tunic and lavender sandals, and Venus is partially clad in a white undergarment and a subdued violet-blue robe. Her creamy white skin contrasts with the darker, smooth skin of Adonis, here depicted as an adolescent with rosy cheeks and a bud-like mouth.