A highly talented painter, draughtsman and engraver, Felice Giani gave new impetus to the art of large-scale interior works, a genre he practiced with a highly original and personal style even though it followed the dictates of the dominant neoclassical taste. After his apprenticeship in Bologna under the last remaining disciples of the Baroque theatrical tradition of the Bibiena family, he completed his artistic training in Rome, where he arrived in 1780. He attended the Accademia di San Luca, dedicating himself enthusiastically to the study of Raphael and Michelangelo.
Giani, who was relatively disinterested in easel painting, produced large numbers of works, including masses of preparatory drawings for his decorative projects (of which he also saw to the ornamentation and stuccoes), as well as plentiful sketches and models such as this Venus and Adonis . This delightful painting, which was probably the study of a detail for a much larger composition (possibly made in the 1790s), gives a good indication of the peculiar characteristics of his style: great compositional abilities, skill in stylistic succinctness, a lack of interest in rigid neoclassical models, and a visionary talent tinged with a vein of melancholic irony.