The Wallace Collection

The Wallace Collection, A Family Collection, A National Museum, An International Treasure House
Venus and Adonis
  • Pierre-Paul Prud'hon (1758 - 1823)
  • Venus and Adonis
  • France
  • 1810 - 1812
  • Painting
  • Oil on canvas
  • Image size: 241 x 168 cm
    Frame size: 282 x 210 x 18 cm
  • P347
  • Reserve Gallery
Commentary
History
Further Reading
  • In Ovid’s Metamorphoses (X, 524-559, 708-739) Venus, as a result of a chance graze from Cupid’s arrow, conceived a passion for Adonis. One day, while out hunting, Adonis was slain by a wild boar. The frantic goddess arrived too late to help him, but created anemones in his memory from the blood-stained earth. Prud’hon’s picture depicts the idyll before the tragedy.

    The painting was commissioned by Empress Marie-Louise in 1810 for the Tuileries and shown at the Salon of 1812. It was never paid nor delivered and stayed with the artist. As an imperial commission, the painting was prepared with exceptional care. Drawings are in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, the Musée Condé in Chantilly, the Musée Bonnat in Bayonne, the Louvre, the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam, an oil sketch is in a private collection. Although a major commission, for which numerous preparatory drawings and oil sketches exist, the composition was criticised from the outset.The composition refers to artists of the High Renaissance, Correggio, but most obviously to Veronese in the figure of Amor.