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The classical story of Venus’ unrequited love for Adonis has been re-told many times in the history of art, often through the medium of sculpture. Its appeal in the 18th century can be partly attributed to the enduring popularity of Shakespeare’s poetic version of the tale, published in 1593.

In this late 18th-century statue, artist John Cheere uses lead to portray a poignant scene from the tragic tale. In this sculptural group at Wrest Park, we see the young god, Adonis, leaving his lover, Venus, to go hunting. Tragically, he is later attacked by a wild boar and dies. As the blood seeps from his body and his flesh becomes pale, the plants around him miraculously gain new colour, and a flower emerges from the soil. This poignant reflection on natural growth and rebirth seems particularly fitting for a sculpture situated among the flowers in the parterre garden at Wrest Park.

English Heritage, Wrest Park

Silsoe

Title

Venus and Adonis

Date

late 18th C

Medium

lead & stone

Accession number

88094576

Work type

Statue

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English Heritage, Wrest Park

Silsoe, Bedfordshire MK45 4HR England

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