Beautiful and rare ivory plaque representing Venus and Adonis, after the composition painted by Titian in the 1520s (conserved at the Prado Museum), and several other times during the following decades. Its format and design indicate this relief was probably conceived as a cabinet ornament, decorating originally a drawer front; during the XVIIth century rich cabinets become frequent and fashionable in Italy and central Europe, featuring small scenes painted on copper, glass or carved in Ivory, sometimes inspired in famous paintings conserved in the great European collections, hunting and mythological scenes being very much appreciated.
Not mentioning its obvious beauty and quality, the interest of the piece lies also in the lack of known examples of decorative arts inspired in the famous painting by the Venitian master: apart from the expected and numerous copies painted on canvas, and with the exception of the print mentioned below, there are not documented versions made with other techniques, the present plaque getting also added significance due to the period in which it was created, probably during the XVIIth century.
Although the earliest and most famous version of Titian’s Venus and Adonis is the Prado’s, the ivory composition differs from it in several aspects and derives rather from the so-called “Farnese type” versions, also painted by Titian himself: the painting conserved at the MET in New York and the canvas at the National Gallery of Washington (c.1560), this one being the closest in several details of the composition. Curiously enough, there are not, among the existing paintings by Titian, a version matching exactly with our ivory. This said, the Flemish artist Raphael Sadeler II (1584-1632) made in 1610 a print after Titian’s Venus and Adonis that does not copy strictly any of his known versions, but interestingly enough, does match exactly in every detail our plaque. It can be asserted consequently the artist likely knew Sadeler print and therefore made this beautiful plaquette after 1610.
Conserved in excellent condition.
Displayed in a modern ebonised wooden support.
Provenance: UK Art Market, Galería Noël Ribes (2002), Spanish Private collection, since 2003.
15 000 €