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Venus and Adonis, after 1794
After Domenico del Frate's drawing after Antonio Canova's sculpture
Engraving. 485 x 347 mm
Inventory number: E534
Works, relating to this work: Antonio Canova, Venus and Adonis, 1789-1794, marble, Villa La Grange, deposited at Les Musées d'Art et d'Historie, Geneva, SchwitzerlandEnlarge photo
Travel literature from the early 19th century reflects how visits to Antonio Canova’s (1758-1822) and Thorvaldsen’s studios were simply a sine qua non for young men out on their grand tours, which among other places took them to Rome. The two studios are mentioned in the same breath as the monuments from antiquity and the famous palaces. Canova’s Venus and Adonis, reproduced here in a print by Pietro Fontana, was finished in 1794. And Canova was heaped with infinite praise for it. In Ovid’s Metamorphoses it is told how Venus was filled with a helpless love for Adonis after she had been struck by one of Cupid’s arrows. Adonis was a hunter; hence the spear held by him and the hound whose leg can just be distinguished behind the two figures. One day, when the impatient Adonis was to go hunting, Venus once more tried to hold him back, but in vain. This was the day on which Venus’ greatest fear was realised and Adonis was killed by a wild boar.