|Courtesy of www.Titian.org|
Titian lived in Venice for most of his life, but was also known throughout Europe. He may have made this work to rival a famous ancient Greek painter called Apelles. Apelles was greatly
admired in the 1500s. He had painted a 'Venus Rising from the Sea', which had since been lost and was known only through a written description. Titian's Venus is a big, beautiful woman who
dominates the picture. She looks unaware of being seen, like a celebrity snapped by a paparazzo while wading ashore after a swim. The only reference to her mythical status is the small
scallop shell in the bottom left-hand corner.
According to legend, she was born fully grown from the foam and blown ashore on a scallop shell, landing near Paphos in Cyprus. Titian's Venus fills the canvas. The small shell floating on the water identifies the beautiful nude female as the goddess of love. The ancient Greek poet Hesiod described how Venus was born fully grown from the sea and blown to the shore on a scallop shell. Titian shows the goddess wringing her hair, a pose inspired by classical sculpture and by an account of Apelles' painting.
Titian's Venus proved that he could rival the art of antiquity and that he could make the ideal appear real.