BOL, Ferdinand
(b. 1616, Dordrecht, d. 1680, Amsterdam)

Venus and Adonis

c. 1658
Oil on canvas, 168 x 230 cm
Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam

The story of Venus and Adonis is taken from the tenth book of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Venus, the goddess of love, becomes enamoured of the beautiful young huntsman, Adonis. In Bol's painting Venus and the young Cupid try in vain to prevent Adonis from going hunting, as the goddess has had a premonition that the hunting party will have fatal consequences, and indeed the hunter is killed by a wild boar.

The story of Venus and Adonis was a favourite in the Netherlands. Rubens painted the subject several times and Bol later painted another picture of the same theme. It was probably the moral component that made the story popular: Adonis was seen as the epitome of reckless youth, whose rejection of Venus' advice led him to his death.