Titian’s Venetian Venuses


            The exceptionally talented and incomparable Titian serves as the perfect embodiment of the celebrated Venetian Renaissance painting tradition. Throughout his lasting and prosperous career, Titian returns time and again to the representation of the female form. Whether painting the Virgin Mary, an Elite Venetian lady, or a courtesan, Titian seems to best express his artistic merit in his depictions of women. In fact, his “professional investment in paintings of women is so striking that it may be related to his deepest creative impulses”.[1] It is the figure of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, that rises from the sea of his oeuvre[2] to most fully represent his artistic talent and creativity. He depicts the goddess in numerous works and in numerous guises. Whether emerging from the sea, interacting with a male lover, engaging in her toilette, or lounging on a bed, each of his Venuses is portrayed in an individualized and multifaceted manner. Whether fully nude, partially covered, or fully dressed, Titian’s goddesses are complex and divinely beautiful women as opposed to eroticized sexual objects. Titian’s Venetian Venuses exemplify his mastery of the human form, his use of vivid color, his knowledge of Classical art, his belief of painting as superior to sculpture, and his penchant for connecting his works with literary tradition. It is precisely through the image of the goddess of love that one is able to admire the brilliance and beauty of the Venetian painter Titian.


     [1] Rona Goffen ed. Titian’s Venus of Urbino (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997) 1.

     [2] Body of work


Venus in Venice

Venus Emerging from the Sea (Venus Anadyomene)

Venus with a Mirror

Venus with Musicians Theme

Venus and Adonis

The Goddess of Beauty or the Goddess of Desire?

Titian’s Venetian Venuses Bibliography

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