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111 Town Square Pl, Jersey City, NJ 07310, U.S.

Venus and Adonis, an oil painting on canvas, was painted by Titian around c. 1565-70. This rectangular painting measures 42 inches long and 52 1/2 inches tall. It is on display in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In this painting, Titian shows the story of Venus and Adonis. The two main characters of Venus and Adonis in the middle with more bright value are mainly painted by yellow, a lot of white, rose, magenta, and different degree of brown. The dark brown pigment used on Adonis’s cloth contrast with the yellow, white, and rose pigment on Venus body. It makes the body of the Venus brighter, even gloomy to the audience. Titian also use rose and magenta on Adonis’s cloth around the shoulder and use cyan for details, like folding of the fabric. The nude figure of Venus seat at the right of Adonis and seen from the back. She turns towards Adonis, her lover, to try to stop him from going hunting. Adonis holds a stick in his right hand and departs with two dogs who appear on his left hand at the right side of the painting. Adonis gazes back at Venus with the slightly opened mouth. He looks so confident. He is not going to cancel his plan to hang, and Venus’s suggestion that he not go has no effect. Cupid, who is Venus’s son, hiding behind Venus in the left of the composition, protectively clasps a dove in his hands and looks at Venus and Adonis. He looks anxious and apprehensive in that his eyebrows are knitted together, and he does not smile. Both rainbow and stormy clouds appear on the right side of the painting’s background. Adonis’s body is towards to the right side and faces the stormy clouds. Compared with the foreground of the painting, two main characters, the middle ground, and background are pretty dark.
Two main characters, Venus and Adonis, create a stable triangular construction with two dogs and Cupid at the left of the painting. Adonis is moving to the left. One of Adonis’s legs is stepping forward. His arm is raised to wave. And his body angle, which towards to the different direction to Venus, shows that he is against Venus and walking to the right of the composition. Venus’s body looks as going to fall over along with Adonis position and action. Interesting angles of two body figures, create motions of the whole painting. The artist also balances the construction by placing Cupid on the side of the painting opposite to the dogs, but also creates a triangle with Venus and Adonis. When Venus and Adonis look at each other, Cupid watches them. Their sight lines create another stable structure in the painting.
Titian depicts a scene of a love story in painting Venus and Adonis. According to the description on MET website , The painting narrates a love story about Venus and Adonis, first recorded in the Metamorphoses by the Roman poet Ovid about 8 centuries. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, falls in love with Adonis, a beautiful youth, a royal orphan, who spends his time on hunting. In this scene, Venus must go back to Olympia for months. She tries to stop Adonis from going hunting. “Titian gives the story of a dramatic twist, however, by showing the goddess passionately pleading with her lover not to depart for the hunt, since he has a premonition that he will be killed by a wild boar. The composition became the most popular of all Titian’s full-length subjects, and it is known in many versions. However, the position of Adonis shows his unchangeable decision, for he ignores all persuading and goes hunting anyway. The stormy clouds in the middle to the upper right of the background of the painting indicate the tragedy prediction and the faith for ending, that Adonis died during hunting. Titian chooses the climax of the storm for the composition to gives a dramatic painting with a lot of contrasts. Moreover, using landscape for the background could be regarded as the characteristic and a tradition of Venetian painting in the later Renaissance period. Titian is so good at telling the story by displaying the contrast between two characters to make the composition more dramatic and showing all hints and details to complete the story and indicate the ending. Values and lights of Venus’s body are so soft and gentle. Her body is so beautiful. She has perfect body proportion, soft mussels, and smooth skins. Venus, of course, a perfect female figure, represents the ideal beauty of females at that period. By contrast with the background and the body of Adonis, Titian makes Venus’s skin astonished.
Like Titian’s other paintings, Venus and Adonis exist in several versions. Two other famous versions are housed in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., and the Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. The one at the National Gallery of Art dates from the same period as the one in Metropolitan Museum of Art. These two versions are quite similar to the scale and composition. However, the color palette of the one at the Metropolitan Museum of Art is much wider and more yellowy. It has a little less contrast of values and brightness than that of the one in National Gallery of Art, and the texture is smoother. The collection in National Gallery of Art has rougher brush strokes on the painting. For example, there are a lot of brush marks on the trees, the sky in the background, and Adonis’s raising arm. They also have some differences on details, like Adonis’s dress, the shape of the clouds, and the one in Metropolitan Museum of Art has arrows on the tree on the left of the painting, but the one in National Gallery of Art does not. There is another important difference. Unlike the version in Washington, D.C., the Cupid in Metropolitan Museum of Art collection looks at Venus and Adonis, with a dove protectively clasps in hands. Additionally, the dresses and fabric in Metropolitan Museum of Art are smoother and transparent. According to these differences, the date and the order in which these two versions were painted is controversial. “There is also disagreement about which of the two later versions in the earlier and/or the finer in quality. The New York picture has a wider color range and is in some respects the more attractive, but it could be argued that the Washington version shows more evidence of Titian himself in the greater energy of the brushwork.”
The earliest version of Venus and Adonis at the Museo National del Prado, Madrid, which was commissioned by Philip II. This version is so different from the other two later versions in America. Not clear what painting you’re referring to. This version has a much brighter color palette with blue sky, sunshine, green mountains, and colorful clothes. The texture is so smooth, and there are rarely brush marks. Cupid at the left of the middle ground is sleeping instead of looking at Venus and Adonis anxiously and clasps a dove protectively. Although the story is sad, and the scene is worried and dramatic, the painting does not provide the motion of tension to the audience. The painting looks romantic and full of beauty of classical.
Unlike Michelangelo or Raphael, have muscular emphasized human figures, Titian’s nude bodies are more rounded, and richness. The body of Venus does not muscular, but rounded and soft. Even the body of Adonis, a male figure, is pretty soft with a genital transition of values. Titian, as an excellent representative of Venetian artist, he builds paintings and figures layers by layers of pigment. His paintings are built by color instead of clear contour lines. These characteristics identify the Venetian art with Renaissance art in other places, especially Florentine arts. Compare with the figure of the painting Baptism of Christ by Andrea del Verroccchio and Leonardo da Vinci, which is also built by colors and has a fluent transition of values and colors. Two body figures in Venus and Adonis have similar color works and the using of values. However, The Venus and Adonis have really obvious brush works at the rest of the painting.
Not only compare with other brilliant artists in Renaissance period, Titian, himself, change the style of painting a lot from earlier paintings to the late styles. “With the notable exception of Venus and Adonis, Titian’s poesies are painted using the fluid and exposed brushwork that is often characterized as Titian’s late style.” In Titian’s early paintings, he does not have distinctive personality and style in brush works. Everything is really smooth and fluent. “He became Giorgione’s heir, and completed that artist’s unfinished ‘Sleeping Venus'”. Venus and Adonis is not the only painting that Titian painted with the figure of Nude Venus. Under the influenced of Giorgione’s Sleeping Venus, Titian paints a really famous painting on caves, Venus of Urbino. Although, there does not have any existing documents or evidence shows that the nude female figure in the painting is Venus, the pose, gesture, the color pallet, and the softness of the Venus is so similar as Giorgione’s Venus in Sleeping Venus. The curve of the nude female body is so graceful and less muscular. Layers and layers of pigments build a beautiful and ideal woman by colors and fluent transition of values without any clear lines. “A wonderful painting sapererated by more than twenty years from the tenderness of Giorgione; the shimmering body is a simple piece of reality.” Opposite to the style of the early figure paintings, Titian’s painting style change a lot in his later career life, especially in landscape. Building figures or stories on the landscape is a significant characteristic of Venetian art in the 16th century, which Florentine art tend to a recession, but Venice got its peak of art. According to three versions of Venus and Adonis, they show the shift of Titian’s style, especially the style of his brush works. The first version, collected by Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid, was commissioned by Felipe II de España. There are much fewer brush marks on the painting than that on the other two versions of Venus and Adonis in the later period. The patron and the purpose of the painting indicate that the style of the painting has less personality of the artist than other tow versions. Tom Nochols also mentioned in his book that, “the anomalies in handling between the relatively finished technique in the Venus and Adonis and the loosely pained Danae was a defensive reaction to Philip’s dislike of the brushwork in a recent portrait.” The landscape in paintings might be the style that Titian keeps for his whole career life. As an influenceable Venetian artist in late Renaissance period, Titian builds his paintings on the landscapes as most of the Venetian artists did. Focusing on landscape could be regarded as one of the most significant characteristics of Venetian Renaissance painting. “Strangely enough the years had done little or nothing to dim the lustre of the painter’s work, his color was still supremely beautiful, his feeling for landscape more intense than it had ever been, while his capacity for striking and novel composition remained a thing to wonder at.”

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