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Venus and Adonis has its roots in Ovid's Metamorphoses, which tell the story of the first mortal who became Venus’s lover. Adonis was a young hunter, and Venus, when she was with him, often warned him about how dangerous this could be for him. But the young man did not listen to the warnings of the goddess and everything ended tragically - on one of the hunts a wild boar lifted him to death.
In this story, Shakespeare wrote a play in which he changed the plot a little. According to his interpretation, Venus offered herself to Adonis, but he was so passionate about hunting that he did not accept her and did not listen to her warnings.
Rubens' painting refers precisely to this, changed, plot. On it, the naked Venus, representing the ideal of beauty modern to Rubens, holds Adonis by the hand. She at the same time looks seductive and pleading - in her movement there is so much sensuality that he looks more like an offer than a prayer. Adonis looks at her fascinated, his face is dreamy, a little silly, and he himself is an idealized hunter. Muscular, with a raised body, holding on to a spear. A small cupid hugging his leg, possibly serving Venus, and the crossbow fell out of his hand.
Everything seems to be fine. No one is going anywhere and a boar with fangs bulging out of its mouth will not wait for a young hunter. However, they already look back at the owner of the pinto dog, pull him along, and no matter how charming Venus is, it is worth barking to one of the dogs - and Adonis will wake up from her spell.
This future movement is already hidden in his body - in the hand with which he reaches for the thigh of the goddess, but at the same time prepares to push her away. Not rude, with regret, but still push away.
Tragic denouement is laid in poses. And therefore, in the eyes of Venus, in the bend of her lips, a longing for a young mortal is visible, who will soon confirm her name and die, despite the fact that she warned him.
Elephants Swans Reflecting