Greek and Roman Mythology

Roman and Greek mythology has been the subject of multiple pieces of art such as paintings and sculptures.  This gallery focuses on paintings associated with these myths.  Many times, the paintings signify a deeper meaning than what can be seen on the surface.  For example, the painting of Venus, Cupid, and Mars shows a nude Venus about to feed her son, baby Cupid, while Mars sits behind her looking on.  On initial inspection, one may think this painting is a family portrait of the three Roman gods.  Venus is the Roman goddess of love and Mars is the Roman god of war.  The artist, Sir Peter Paul Rubens, uses the gods’ virtues to represent how love can triumph over war, peace over conflict.  As this painting was released during the height of the Thirty Years’ War, it carried political connotations.  The choice of soft, light colours and textures for Venus and Cupid and harsh, dark colours for Mars helps characterize and contrast the stark differences between them.  

Though the artists featured in this gallery are from different time periods, they use similar techniques.  For example, in six of the seven photos, the artist has chosen to paint the women topless which relates to the concept of the gaze and gender (Sturken & Cartwright, 2009).  This was not uncommon during this time period, as the primary viewers were male (Sturken & Cartwright, 2009).  In this way, these images were also considered aesthetically pleasing and in good taste because the styles of these paintings were culturally acceptable (Sturken & Cartwright, 2009).  

In The Abduction of Europa, Apollo and Coronis, Venus, Mars, and Cupid, The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, and Perseus and Andromeda, the artists have chosen to use light and shadow to distinguish between good and evil.  For example, in Perseus and Andromeda and The Sacrifice of Iphigenia, the god Perseus and the goddess Diana are showered in bright colours such as yellow and white.  Iphigenia is also bathed in bright light, while her father and the sailors, who nearly sacrificed her, are in darker colours.  Though Iphigenia is almost saved by Perseus, she is still under the shadow of the dragon.  In the sky there are dark clouds, but behind the gods are clear skies, signifying the storm has passed.  In Apollo and Coronis, the skies behind Coronis are dark and bleak, signifying her impending death.                                                                                           References                                                                              

Sturken, M. & Cartwright, L. (2009).  Practices of looking: An introduction to visual culture (2nd ed.).  New York, NY: Oxford University Press.

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This user gallery has been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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