Padua, 1605 – Venice, 1687

Venus and Adonis

oil on canvas, cm 96×73


The composition of the painting is tightly focused on the figures: Adonis, shown in half bust, is tenderly embraced and kissed by Venus, while a putto in Venus’s winged chariot watches the scene from above. Emilio Negro has attributed this painting to Pietro Liberi, one of the greatest painters of his age.

Born in Padua, the painter had a lively and eventful life that reads like a novel. A journey to the Middle East, imprisonment in Tunis and then an escape to Naples and Rome. All this can be seen in his painting which, in the mid-17th century, revived the grandiose and monumental forms of Roman and Tuscan mannerism. This explains why he managed to work for the Medici, producing famous compositions from the century before his. This remarkable painting is typical of his production and is one of the most successful examples of the mixture of passion and eroticism that characterises Pietro Liberi’s secular production.