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Statuette - Venus and Adonis

Venus and Adonis

  • Object:

    Statuette

  • Place of origin:

    London (made)

  • Date:

    ca. 1640 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Fanelli, Francesco (makers)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Bronze

  • Credit Line:

    Salting Bequest

  • Museum number:

    A.118-1910

  • Gallery location:

    Sculpture, Room 111, The Gilbert Bayes Gallery, case 4

Bronzes often exist in a number of versions, made over many decades or even centuries. This is achieved through a variety of means, such as changes in the wax, new moulds taken from an existing bronze or the reuse of the existing model. This statuette of Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility, restraining the beautiful youth Adonis and another (inv.no. A.58-1956) were probably cast from the same moulds. Fanelli varied the composition of his small bronzes by combining the wax elements in different ways. There are a number of small differences between these two groups, particularly in the dogs on the left and the slain boars on the right.

Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility and mother of Cupid, fell in love with Adonis after being accidently grazed by Cupid's arrow. Adonis was killed by a wild boar while out hunting, and is usually shown with his hounds and prey. A remnant of the foot of a missing Cupid can be seen on the rock behind Venus.

Franceso Fanelli (1577- ca. 1641) was first documented in Genoa in 1608, where, until about 1631, he produced religious works in marble, silver, ivory and bronze. By 1635, he was working at the English court. Although he described himself 'sculptor to the King of Great Britain', it is unclear whether this title was officially conferred. The V&A owns versions of several small bronzes by 'ffrancisco the one-eyed Italian' listed in an inventory of Whitehall Palace in 1639. George Vertue stated that Fanelli 'lv'd and dyd in England'; he is last documented in 1641 and believed to have died soon after.

Physical description

Statuette in bronze of Venus and Adonis. Venus seated on a rock embracing Adonis who stands beside her, and endeavouring to restrain him from the chase. Beside Adonis is a waiting hound, and at his feet is a small dead wild boar. The base is octagonal. Dark brown patina.

Place of Origin

London (made)

Date

ca. 1640 (made)

Artist/maker

Fanelli, Francesco (makers)

Materials and Techniques

Bronze

Dimensions

Height: 15.5 cm

Object history note

From the Salting bequest.

Historical context note

Venus, the Roman goddess of love and fertility and mother of Cupid, fell in love with Adonis after being accidently grazed by Cupid's arrow. Adonis was killed by a wild boar while out hunting, and is usually shown with his hounds and prey. A remnant of the foot of a missing Cupid can be seen on the rock behind Venus.

Descriptive line

Statuette, bronze, Venus and Adonis, Anglo-Italian, workshop of Francesco Fanelli, ca. 1640

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Penny, N. Catalogue of European sculpture in the Ashmolean Museum : 1540 to the present day. Oxford : Clarendon Press, 1992, vol. III, p.62.
'Salting Bequest (A. 70 to A. 1029-1910) / Murray Bequest (A. 1030 to A. 1096-1910)'. In: List of Works of Art Acquired by the Victoria and Albert Museum (Department of Architecture and Sculpture). London: Printed under the Authority of his Majesty's Stationery Office, by Eyre and Spottiswoode, Limited, East Harding Street, EC, p. 9

Production Note

Anglo-Italian. Previously thought to be Dutch and attributed to the workshop of Adrian de Vries.

Materials

Bronze

Categories

Sculpture; Myths & Legends

Collection

Sculpture Collection

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