(b. 1682, Napoli, d. 1752, Madrid)

Venus and Adonis

Oil on canvas, 142 x 173 cm
Alte Pinakothek, Munich

The story of Venus and Adonis, which has attracted not only artists but poets, including Shakespeare, tells that Adonis was the offspring of the incestuous union of King Cinyras of Paphos, in Cyprus, with his daughter Myrrha. His beauty was a byword. Venus conceived a helpless passion for him as a result of a chance graze she received from Cupid's arrow (Met. 10:524-559). One day while out hunting Adonis was slain by a wild boar, an accident Venus had always dreaded (Met. 10:708-739). Hearing his dying groans as she flew overhead in her chariot, she came down to aid him but was too late. In the place where the earth was stained with Adonis' blood, anemones sprouted. Artists usually depict two scenes, Amigoni painted both.

The second scene is shown on this picture. In the forest a grieving Venus is pouring the nectar that causes Adonis' blood to fertilize the earth. Cupid assists her. Venus' chariot stands nearby.