- Reference number
- Carracci, Annibale
- Venus, Adonis and Cupid
- Ca. 1590
- 212 cm x 268 cm
- On display
- Colección Real (Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, tercera pieza de la Furriera, 1747, nº 155; Palacio Real Nuevo, Madrid, estudio de Andrés de la Calleja, 1772, nº 153; Casa de Rebeque, Madrid, 1794, nº 155; Academia de San Fernando, sala reservada, 1827, nº 54).
Venus, the Roman goddess of Love and Beauty, is accidentally wounded by one of her son Cupid's arrows, which triggers her passion for Adonis. This love story ends with the tragic death of the hero. The scene is based on book X of Ovid's Metamorphoses, one of the most important sources of mythology for artists of that time.
The composition and pictorial technique in this work are a fine example of the different influences that Annibale Carracci received and reinterpreted throughout his life. The landscape in the background and the crepuscular light are linked to Venetian chromaticism, especially Titian's work, while the delicate but powerful classicism of the figures was developed by the artist on the basis of Greco-Roman sculpture and the work of Correggio, Raphael and Michelangelo.
There are various preparatory sketches for this work at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando in Madrid, at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence and at the British Museum in London, as well as an ancient copy in the Kunsthistorisches Museum of Vienna.
This masterpiece of the younger and most reputed member of the Carracci family was acquired by Felipe IV in 1664 from the heirs to the Genoese aristocrat, Giovanni Francesco Serra (1609-1656).