RICCI, Sebastiano
(b. 1659, Belluno, d. 1734, Venezia)

Venus and Adonis

Oil on canvas, 70 x 40 cm
Musée des Beaux-Arts, Orléans

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, the depart and the death of Adonis. This painting represents the first scene.

Adonis, spear in hand and with hunting dogs straining at the leash, is impatient to be off, while Venus imploringly tries to hold him back. But she pleads in vain.