Venus and Adonis

Dublin Core


Venus and Adonis


Venus, Adonis


This picture was influenced by but not modeled after Titian's "Venus and Adonis" (Prado, Madrid), which Rubens copied in Madrid in 1628–29. On the whole, however, Rubens's design, in composition and mood, is more like the engraving after a design by the printmaker Crispijn de Passe I that was published by Hondius in 1600 [see Ref. Liedtke 1984, fig. 31]. It is likely that Rubens based his Adonis upon some ancient statue or relief of a figure holding a spear, or upon the Dioskouroi (Piazza del Quirinale, Rome).

Other versions of this subject by Rubens are known.


Venus, assisted by Cupid, vainly tries to restrain her mortal lover Adonis from setting off for the hunt, knowing that he will be killed by a wild boar. The painting is inspired by Titian's picture of the same subject in the Prado, Madrid, which Rubens saw and copied during his stay in Madrid in 1628 and 1629 (a version of Titian's painting is in the Metropolitan Museum). The broad execution and vivid color of the present painting indicate a date in the mid- or late 1630s. Radiographs reveal that Rubens gave Adonis a somber expression, which was repainted at a later date. The picture was presented by Emperor Joseph I to the first Duke of Marlborough.


Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577-1640



Date Available

mid- or late 1630s


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Gift of Harry Payne Bingham, 1937 (37.162)
Maximilian II Emanuel, Elector of Bavaria, Munich (until 1706; seized by Emperor Joseph I and presented to Churchill); John Churchill, 1st Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire (1706–d. 1722); the Dukes of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace (1722–1883; cat., 1861, p. 27); George Charles Spencer-Churchill, 8th Duke of Marlborough, Blenheim Palace (1883–d. 1892; his sale, Christie's, London, July 24 and 26, 1886, no. 75, for £7,560, bought in by Agnew for Marlborough); his widow, Lilian Warren, Dowager Duchess of Marlborough, later Lady William Leslie de la Poer Beresford (1892–d. 1909); Colonel Oliver Payne, New York (1909–d. 1917); his nephew, Harry Payne Bingham (1917–37; on loan to MMA, 1920–37)

Rights Holder

Image © The Metropolitan Museum of Art

Still Image Item Type Metadata

Original Format

oil on canvas

Physical Dimensions

With added strips, 77 3/4 x 95 5/8 in. (197.5 x 242.9 cm)



Peter Paul Rubens, Flemish, 1577-1640, “Venus and Adonis,” Mapping Mythology: A Digital Collection of Classical Mythology in Post-Antique Art, accessed March 23, 2018,