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Landscape with the Story of Venus and Adonis-Hans Bol

Hans Bol, 1859 – Landscape with the Story of Venus and Adonis

Hans Bol painted this unusual miniature in two parts: the central landscape, painted on parchment mounted on wood, and the framing design, painted directly on wood. Both parts tell the story of the beautiful youth Adonis from Ovid’s Metamorphoses. In the main panel, Venus and Adonis embrace before he leaves on the hunt shown in the distance, in which he is killed by a boar. Clockwise from left, the frame’s ovals show subsidiary incidents: Adonis’s mother Myrrha commits incest with her father; turned into the myrrh tree as punishment, Myrrha bears their son, Adonis; Venus is struck with love for Adonis; blood springing from the dead Adonis turns into the anemone flower.

In the frame, Bol combined the cartouches and trophies of a three-dimensional picture frame with illusionistic borders reminiscent of manuscript illumination. His materials–opaque color and gold paint on parchment–also follow the tradition of manuscript illumination.