(b. 1555, Firenze, d. 1630, Firenze)

The Death of Adonis

c. 1593
Oil on stone, 27 x 36 cm
Galleria Sabauda, Turin

In the 1590s virtuoso paintings on copper or stone had gained prominent positions in Italian collections. The most positive attributes of paintings of this type were delicacy, refinement, and the display of artistic skill. Tempesta, a Florentine artist, successfully combined the late sixteenth-century northern techniques of artists such as Johannes Stradanus with Tuscan refinement. Tempesta's long and varied career shows that it was possible to paint as well on a very small scale as in fresco, the most disparate of materials. His compositions were admired by more original and brilliant painters. His collections of prints were used by painters as models for their compositions throughout the first half of the seventeenth century. His jewel-like paintings on alabaster, lapis lazuli and stone were circulated among the connoisseurs in Rome. The artist often designed elaborate frames, decorated with enamel, for his paintings.

In the Death of Adonis, a hunting theme, conveyed by a party of minute hunters in the distant background, and a mythological theme are combined. A more correct title for the painting might be the Hunt of Meleager. The figures dashing onto the usually empty but here thronged scene are not in fact the goddess of Love and her entourage, but the companions of Meleager and the bellicose Atlanta.