Many painters of the Renaissance period chose Greek mythology as the primary subject of their works. Some of the Greek myths depicted in Renaissance art might be not be well-known to us today, but many are instantly recognisable. Botticelli, Leonardo Da Vinci, Raphael, Titian and Correggio were all Renaissance painters with famous artworks that feature Greek mythology figures.
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Botticelli's Birth of Venus
Botticelli was a Renaissance artist of the Florentine School. In "Birth of Venus," the winds Zephyr and Aura use their forces to create Venus, who appears nude on a half-shell. One of the Graces floats at her side, poised with a cape to protect her modesty. "Birth of Venus" was painted around 1483, and hangs in the Uffizi art museum in Florence, Italy. Other Botticelli paintings depicting Greek mythological figures include "Birth of Spring" ("La Primavera") and "Pallas and Centaur."
Leonardo Da Vinci's Leda and the Swan
Da Vinci was also a Florentine whose works date to the Renaissance period. He is best known for depictions of Christian figures, but one of his most famous works features Greek mythology. In "Leda and the Swan," Da Vinci depicts the story of Leda, who was approached by the god Zeus who was masquerading as a swan. Zeus tricks Leda into making love with him. The myth claims Helen of Troy was born of this union.
Raphael's The Parnassus
Raphael was an Italian Renaissance artist widely-known for his references to Greek mythology and mythological figures. In "The Parnassus," Raphael depicts the mythological Mount Parnassus, where Apollo was said to reside. The painting portrays Apollo, the Muses and ancient poets. Some other works by Raphael with Greek themes are "The Triumph of Galatea" and "The Three Graces."
Titian's Bacchus and Ariadne
Titian was an Italian Renaissance painter of the Venetian School. He painted everything from personal portraits and landscapes to religious and mythological figures. In "Bacchus and Ariadne," Titian depicts Bacchus' first encounter with Ariadne, the princess of Crete. Bacchus captures Ariadne and eventually marries her. The circle of stars above her head symbolise a bridal crown. Additional paintings by Titian featuring Greek mythology are "Diana and Actaeon," "The Death of Actaeon" and "Diana and Callisto."
Correggio was a late Renaissance painter from the Parma School. He is widely-known for his portrayal of Greek myths based on Ovid's Metamorphoses. Correggio depicts the Greek mythological figure, "Danae," in a painting of the same name. Danae was locked in a tower, after an oracle predicted that her son would kill her. Jupiter comes to Danae in the form of golden rain and rescues her. In Correggio's painting, Danae is lying on a bed with Eros by her side, while gold rains from a cloud in the background. Some of Correggio's other paintings with Greek mythological figures include "Ganymede Abducted by the Eagle," "Venus and Cupid with a Satyr" and "Jupiter and Io."
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