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Frederick MacMonnies
Venus and Adonis
1895
bronze
28 1/4 x 19 5/8 x 10 in.
Smithsonian American Art Museum, Museum purchase made possible in part by the Luisita L. and Franz H. Denghausen Endowment



A saucy Venus, goddess of love, flirts with the handsome Adonis who restrains his mastiff, symbol of the hunt. MacMonnies specialized in creative adaptations of classical styles that lent an elevated tone to art without depriving it of titillating possibilities. In France, where the sculptor spent much of his career, the unabashed nudity of his subjects did not shock. In the United States, however, the work caused a scandal when it appeared in its life-size marble version.