Rubens was a great admirer of Titian's work and made numerous copies of the artist's paintings upon his visit to the Spanish Royal Collection in Madrid in 1628-29.

This sketch represents the tragic conclusion to the story of the two lovers; having ignored Venus's warning not to join the hunt, Adonis is killed by a boar. A pietà-like composition is evoked as we observe Venus tenderly mourning her lover.


  • Title: Venus mourning Adonis
  • Date: c.1614
  • Physical Dimensions: w665 x h485 cm
  • Type: Painting
  • Medium: Oil
  • Work Notes: The 1813 inventory describes DPG451 as 'the sketch for Mr Hope's picture'Ðie. the large painting owned (1977) by Messrs Duits and exhibited at Antwerp, Rubens Exhibition, 1977.Ê This record has not been editedÊ ÊÊ Lot 0134 from Sale Catalog Br-62Artist Name RUBENS, PETER PAUL (Flemish)Lot Title Venus and Adonis [capital pictures, brought from Paris, principally from Mr. Robit's famous collection, And other distinguished cabinets]Transaction Unknown, Gs200 Lot Notes The bracketed information in the title is given on the title page of the catalogue.Auction House Bryan (Michael)Sale Location London, EnglandSale Date 1801 Nov 6 - 1802 May 31 (This Lot: Nov 6)Seller Bryan, MichaelSee Also Sale Description Transcription Artist: Rubens Seller: BryanÊ Ê Lot 0176 from Sale Catalog Br-337Artist Name RUBENS, PETER PAUL (Flemish)Lot Title Venus and Adonis, a well executed picture, in fine preservationTransaction Bought In, £33.12 Auction House Skinner and DykeSale Location London, EnglandSale Date 1805 May 28 - 1805 Jun 2 (This Lot: May 31)Seller Breen, John EdwardLugt Number 6959See Also Sale Description Post Owner Davies, Richard Richard Davies cat., 1805, p.11 Transcription Artist: Rubens Seller: John Edward BreenÊ This record was last modified 4 March 1991Ê ÊÊ Lot 0065 from Sale Catalog Br-375Artist Name RUBENS, PETER PAUL (Flemish)Lot Title Venus and Adonis -- a grand and noble composition, full of all the glow of the great Master's mindTransaction Sold, £13.13 Auction House Coxe (Peter)Sale Location London, EnglandSale Date 1806 Mar 19 - 1806 Mar 20 (This Lot: Mar 19)Seller Lansdowne, William Petty, 1st Marquess ofBuyer BrogdenLugt Number 7044See Also Sale Description Post Sales 1806/12/29 LOEU 18561808/05/03 LOEU 00231808/11/00 LOEU 00231809/02/18 LOCH 0074 Transcription Artist: Rubens Seller: Marquis of Lansdowne Buyer: Brogden
  • Work Nationality: Flemish
  • Support: Panel
  • Provenance: ?J. Wildens inventory, 30 Dec. 1653 ('schetse van RubensÉ eenen dooden Adonis'); ?London, European Museum Private sale, 1792, lot 306 ('Death of Adonis-Venus and Cupid. Sketch for Madrid'); ?London, European Museum, 16 Nov. 1801, lot 439 (Venus bewailing the death of Adonis, the original sketch for the large picture); London, Sir Francis Bourgeois, 1811; Bourgeois Bequest, 1811.
  • Further Information: "The Flemish artist Rubens was a great admirer of Titian's work and made copies of the poesie upon his visit to Madrid in 1628-29. A drawing by him of Venus's head, after the Venus and Adonis in the Spanish royal collection, is now housed in the Getty Museum, Los Angeles, though his copy of the full composition has yet to be rediscovered. Rubens's own version of Venus and Adonis (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York) borrows heavily from Titian's except in the orientation of the figures - Rubens's Venus is seen from the front and Adonis from the rear. This sketch is in essence a painted drawing, filled with the detail and emotional intensity for which Rubens is known. Through this medium we see the creative process of Rubens unfold; while painted versions of the composition likely involved the participation of assistants, here we have a pure record of Ruben's artistic genius. "
  • Artist: Rubens, Sir Peter Paul
  • Acquisition Method: Bourgeois, Sir Peter Francis (Bequest, 1811)

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