Venus fans Adonis, who rests on her knees, while she watches Cupid embrace a dog. This work was conceived as a pair to Cephalus and Procris (Musee des Beaux-Arts, Strasbourg), and both illustrate passages from Ovid's Metamorphosis. The present work is drawn from Book X, which is dedicated to love truncated by the sudden and fortuitous death of one of the lovers.
The painting depicts the lovers' last moment of happiness before Adonis dies, gored by a wild boar. Veronese opted to portray the psychology of love, visible in the shadowed face of Venus, who knew what her beloved's fate would be. The artist may have been in Rome shortly before he painted this work. The figure of Cupid is inspired by the Hellenistic sculpture Boy with a Goose, and the Adonis by the Endymion on a sepulcher at the Roman Basilica of Saint John of Letran.
© Museo Nacional del Prado, 2013