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Workshop of Titian, Venus and Adonis

Key facts
Full title Venus and Adonis
Artist Workshop of Titian
Artist dates active about 1506; died 1576
Date made about 1554
Medium and support Oil on canvas
Dimensions 177.9 × 188.9 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1824
Inventory number NG34
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
Previous owners
Venus and Adonis
Workshop of Titian

Naked Venus, the goddess of love, throws her arms around handsome young Adonis to stop him from going out to hunt. The story is told in Book 10 of Ovid’s Metamorphoses. Venus falls in love with the youth Adonis when Cupid accidentally wounds her with one of his arrows. She goes hunting with Adonis but tells him not to pursue the fiercer prey (wolves, bears, lions and boars). One morning when Venus sets out in her sky-borne chariot, Adonis’s hounds rouse a wild boar, which turns on him. Venus hears Adonis’s groans, leaps from her chariot and finds him dying. From her lover’s blood she creates a fragile flower whose petals are scattered in the wind, named anemone (‘wind flower’ in Greek).

This picture is one of many versions of the subject painted by Titian and his studio. The most famous was delivered in 1554 to Prince Philip, later King Philip II of Spain, and is now in the Museo del Prado, Madrid. The National Gallery’s canvas was probably painted by an artist in Titian’s workshop, following his by then established design.

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