Dreams of Desire 60 (Venus of Urbino)

Venus of Urbino
Venus of Urbino-Titian circa 1532-1534

I have concentrated in the Dreams of Desire series on erotic images produced by the various avant-garde movements that followed the great rupture with tradition that was Impressionism, especially the Symbolist, Expressionist and Surrealist movements. However eroticism had long been a staple of Western Art, notably in the Renaissance.

Although Titian’s painting bears the title Venus of Urbino, it is immediately evident that it represents a break from the numerous preceding pictorial versions of the Goddess of Love. This is a Venus that is shown in a domestic scene as opposed to the bucolic countryside, and she has been largely stripped of her standard allegorical and mythological accoutrements.  The viewer is presented with a sensual and erotic image of a earthly woman (probably a courtesan); nothing more, nothing less.

Also startling in a painting almost 500 years old is the frankness of the steady gaze of Venus, a  frankness that certainly invites comparisons with Manet’s Olympia, a painting  that caused such controversy and consternation upon being first exhibited in 1865.

olympia[1]
Edouard Manet-Olympia 1863