Death of Adonis
Nicolas_Bertin (French, 1667 – 1736)
MediumOil on copper
DimensionsPanel : 21 5/8 x 21 5/8 in. (54.93 x 54.93 cm)
Frame : 28 1/2 x 28 1/2 in. (72.39 x 72.39 cm)
Credit Linesee object file
LabelFor centuries from the Renaissance onward, European artists looked to classical mythology for stories about deeper aspects of the human condition that were both entertaining and instructive. This painting was inspired by the myth of Adonis and Aphrodite, which was widely regarded during the 17th and 18th centuries as a supreme illustration of tragic love. According to ancient Greek and Roman sources, Adonis was the son of a Syrian princess who was rescued from death as an infant by the goddess Aphrodite. As Adonis grew up, he became the perfect specimen of male beauty and eventually became Aphrodite’s lover. Their love affair angered Ares, the God of War, who sent a wild boar to kill Adonis while he was hunting. As Adonis lay mortally wounded, his anguished cries were heard by Aphrodite, who rushed to Adonis’s side in her swan-drawn chariot only to have the handsome young man die in her arms. The creator of this painting, Nicolas Bertin, specialized in Biblical and mythological subjects. He won the prestigious Prix de Rome in 1685 and was elected to the French Royal Academy of Painting and Sculpture in 1703.