Venus in Venice

It is the city of Venice in the Renaissance that perhaps has the most in common with the mythological figure of Venus. The close similarity of their names and their relationship with the sea perhaps suggest that Venetians drew value from connecting the image of the goddess with the image of the city. An especially meaningful connection involves the idea of their respective origins. Both Venus and Venice were literally born of the sea. In addition, the market for images of the goddess who rose out of the foam, may have had its origins in the city paved with streets of water. As Malcolm Bull suggests:

Tough they later spread throughout Europe, the reclining nude in a landscape, the Toilet of Venus, and the iconography of Venus and Adonis were all initially Venetian products. …. There are at least three interconnected factors in the Venetian production of Venusian imagery: the sea, prostitution, and trade.[1]

Venice became the perfect setting for the envisioning of a Renaissance interpretation of of Venus, and Titian became the perfect artist to create it.


[1] Malcolm Bull, Mirror of the Gods (New York : Oxford University Press, 2005), 220.

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