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Comparison of Venus And Adonis Paintings By Titan And Reubens

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Comparison of Venus And Adonis Paintings By Titan And Reubens

The rich Greek mythology has several stories to tell and that of Venus and Adonis, two lovers, is one of them. As the myth goes, Venus, the Greek goddess of love, falls in love with the mortal Adonis and where Venus is a beautiful goddess desired by most, Adonis is a mortal man, proud and arrogant of his good looks. The story of the two is depicted in paintings by Titian and Rubens and a comparison of both follows in the rest of the paper.

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            In both paintings, the scene depicted shows the part where Venus is pleading in front of Adonis to make him stay with her instead of going hunting as she knows that if he goes on the hunting trip, he is bound to get killed. Adonis on the other hand is stern about his decision and is pulling away as he is too caught up in his pride and his wrongly assumed notion that he, too, is immortal.

As the story goes, Adonis does end up getting killed by a wild boar at the hunting tip, leaving a lesson to be learnt for the rest of mankind.

            In Titian’s painting, it is slightly odd to see that in spite of being lovers, both Venus and Adonis seem like complete strangers with Venus desperately begging Adonis and Adonis ignoring her completely as if shrugging away a random beggar asking for money or some other necessity. Titian has successfully depicted the weak, pleading and frail Venus in front of the strong, stern and harsh Adonis who pays no heed to the desperate Venus.

            As far as the aesthetics of the painting are concerned, the painting has a sense impulsiveness and dynamics because of the use of free, lively strokes of paint. Apart from that, in some areas in the painting, Titian even painted with his finger, as seen in Adonis’s arm. Titian made use of rich colors, sparkling highlights, and a lush landscape to create a suggestive mood.

            The intricacies of the painting can be seen in the fact that Venus’s neck is bent in a way in which no mortal female can bend this shows the concentration on the details of the myth itself, keeping the spirit of the story alive. This aspect of the painting stresses on the fact that Venus is, in fact, an immortal goddess and in spite of that is a position of pleading.

            The background shows the Cupid weeping at the failure of love and the inability of it to last.  Other than that, Adonis’s hunting dogs even seem hesitant to go as if after having anticipated what lied ahead. In the whole scenario, Adonis seems to be the only one with a strident look on his face, too lost and encompassed by his belief in being immortal. His dogs strain at their leashes, showing his impatience.

The painting, in essence, sends the message that mortal or immortal; nothing stands in the way of what fate has planned. Here, the example of a helpless goddess substantiates this claim and the death of a foolish Adonis gives it a harsh image at the same time.

            Moving on to the same theme depicted by Rubens, one can see that there are stark similarities as well as vivid differences between the two paintings. Ruben’s version of the painting is more intense and the difference in the colors used signifies the difference in the eras in which both were painted. The intensity of the entire scenario can be noticed by the attention paid to detail; for example, the dark and lush trees add gravity to the entire situation and signify the threat that lies ahead of Adonis.

            Apart from that, the feeling with which Venus attempts to stop Adonis from leaving is also intensified by the entire painting. Even the cupid holds on to Adonis instead of weeping in the background as shown in Titian’s painting.

            Even though Ruben’s painting was inspired by Titian’s initial painting, its individuality still stands out. It has a character of its own and tells the same story in a stronger and more intense way. Both Adonis and Venus are given more personality by the colors, the expressions and the positions that they’re in.  The facial expressions of both Venus and Adonis are clearer and speak more strongly of their feeling. Venus’s face can be seen in Ruben’s painting whereas; in Titian’s painting only her back can be seen. The pleading look speaks loads for Venus’s emotional crisis and at the same time, Adonis’s harsh look speaks of his arrogance and indifference.

            The graceful manner in which Venus bends toward Adonis shows her quality of being a goddess and similarly, the tanned and muscular Adonis represents the strength of the mortal man that a goddess fell in love with. Against the beautifully painted sky, Adonis seems even classier and even more strongly bent on his decision.

            In all, in spite of having their differences and similarities, the message that is put forward by both paintings is the same. Fate is the key player in the lives of both lovers, with even the goddess left helpless. Both paintings show the goddess of love pleading for her love in the most vulnerable and powerless way ant yet, her mortal lover gives absolutely no importance to her.

            The artistic abilities of both painters can be compared at a larger scale but it is definitely commendable that both artists kept the essence of the myth alive and depicted the message implied by it in the most effective way. Both show Venus helpless, Adonis strong and irritated, the Cupid in utter disapproval of the incident, the gloomy environment, the tension and the tragedy.

            The painting, truly aren’t solely about love but are, in fact, depiction of the workings of fate and the message that nothing can stand in its way.


Rubens, P. P. (Artist). (1640). Venus and Adonis. [Image of Painting].  Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Retrieved on May 19, 2009 from http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/html/r/rubens/23mythol/42mythol.html

Titan. (Artist). (1635). Venus and Adonis [Image of Painting]. National Gallery of Art, U.S.A. Retrieved on, May 19, 2009 from  http://library.thinkquest.org/C0118063/critique/titian.htm

Titan. (Artist). Venus and Adonis. National Gallery of Art, U.S.A. [Image of Painting]. Retrieved on, May 19, 2009 from http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=1030


Cite this Comparison of Venus And Adonis Paintings By Titan And Reubens

Comparison of Venus And Adonis Paintings By Titan And Reubens. (2016, Sep 04). Retrieved from https://graduateway.com/comparison-of-venus-and-adonis-paintings-by-titan-and-reubens/

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