Venus and Adonis, by Peter Oliver (c1594-1647), after Titian (c1488/90-1576).

The painting, on vellum with water colour pigment mixed with gum arabic, has a gold border within a rectangular dark stained veneered fruitwood frame, 18cm by 21.5cm. Signed, inscribed and dated ‘1631/ P. Oliver./ Fe.’ and ‘Titianus. Inven.’

The reverse has a crowned cypher stamp for the Collection of Charles I.

It was described as follows in the van der Doort catalogue of the Collections of Charles I: ‘ [6] Item done upon the ___ lighte the sixt beeing the Picture of Adonis Venus Cupid and some doggs by done after Titian wch said lim’d peace is dated 1631 where the Principall in oyle cullors belongeth to my Lo: of Arundell’ ‘don by Peter Oliver after Titian wch your Matie wth your owne hands deliv§d it to my lord Chambleines dwarfe.’

It was kept in ‘double shutting cases with Locks and Keys and glasses over them’ in the ‘new erected Cabbonett roome’ at Whitehall.

With the dispersal of the King’s Collection it was recorded in the catalogue of the Commonwealth sale, 8th October, 1651 as sold to Cruso & Terence for £80: ‘Venus & Adonus by Pere Oliver.’

The original composition by Titian was painted for the future Philip II of Spain in 1553. The painting, which was much copied by Titian’s studio and by subsequent generations, is in the Prado, Madrid.

The miniature was part of a massive bequest from Elizabeth, Countess of Devonshire (1619-1689) to her daughter Anne, Countess of Exeter (1649-1703) and recorded in an inventory known as the 1690 Deed of Gift or Devonshire Schedule: ‘A Picture of Venus and Adonis by old Oliver after Titian.’


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