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Painting Title Landcape with Venus and Adonis
Collection York Art Gallery
Artist Neyts, Gillis (Flemish painter, 1623-1687)
Date Earliest about 1640
Date Latest about 1650
Signed yes

The painting contains two scenes: to the right, Venus accompanied by Cupid embraces Adonis, standing by a chariot pulled by two swans; far to the left by the river are three figures, two of which are probably again Venus and Adonis (though Pierre Gustot identifies the whole group as the nymphs). Adonis was the god of beauty and desire, and is a central figure in various religions, as his myth included the archetype of death-rebirth-deity. The most popular version of the myth is in Book X of Ovid's Metamorphoses. Artists usually focussed on the motif of Venus's affection toward Adonis, or on Adonis' death in Venus's arms (he was killed by a wild boar).

Neyts painted mythological and religious subject matters mostly at the beginning of career, in the 1640s, a date supported by the fact that palace architecture is uncommon in Neyts' later work; similar buildings appear in drawings dated 1650 (one in Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt, inv. no. HZ 142, which shows mountain landscape with the Escorial, and the other in the private collection, showing the landscape with the old Brussels' Palace; both drawings reproduced by P. Gustot, p. 148, cat no. D3 and D4).

Current Accession Number YORAG : 55
Inscription front lr 'g. Nyts f.'
Subject landscape; mythology (Venus and Adonis); figure
Measurements 25.4 x 38.7 cm
Material oil on panel
Acquisition Details Passed from the Castle Museum in York 1945.
Provenance Bequeathed by Chaplin Wilkinson (Howden Hall) Bequest to the Castle Museum, York 1945.
Publications PREVIEW. City of York Art Gallery Quarterly, 51, July 1960, vol. XIII, pp. 494-495;York Art Gallery Catalogue - Catalogue of Paintings, Vol. I: Foreign Schools 1350-1800, City of York Art Gallery, York, 1961, p. 80, pl. 73; Flemish Art in Hungary: Budapest, Bruxelles 2004, p. 44; Oil Paintings in Public Ownership. North Yorkshire, London, 2006, p. 318; Gustot,P., Gillis Neyts: un paysagiste brabanc;on en valle;e mosane au XVIIe sie;cle, 2008, p. 40, cat. P3, p. 62, as given in 1845.

The painting is a pair to YORAG : 54, Landscape with Apollo and Python. In the past the set may have contained more than two paintings, as there is another picture by Neyts in a private collection, of a similar size (25 x 33.5 cm) and a very similar composition, showing Apollo and Daphne, sold in London at Sotheby's on 18 September 1997, lot. 310.

Gillis (Aegidius) Neyts was a Flemish painter, but was mostly active as draughtsman. He is recorded in the Antwerp guild of Saint Luke in 1647; it is possible he was a pupil of Lucas van Uden. He spent some time in Holland and France, and perhaps in Italy (which is not certain). After 1665 (when he moved to Namur) his manner became looser than in his early works. In 1676 he travelled to Lille and in 1680 returned to Antwerp.

Rights Owner York Museums Trust (York Art Gallery)
Author Dr Magdalena Łanuszka



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