Strong Women in Venice Exhibit Description: The Venetian Renaissance took place in the sixteenth century in Venice, Italy. Venice was a large trade port and had much support for artists. Most of the commissions that artists received were from private sanctions. These artists focused on smooth, soft and muted brush strokes, with strong uses of light. Many of the artists focused on female nudes, commonly using the Venus character. This use of a naked woman being the main focus of the paintings created a sense of confidence and strength with women in Venice. These figures where large, strong, and tall women with soft and perfect skin. The softness of their skin glowed making them look heavenly, hence the use of Venus. This exhibition includes work from Titian, Bellini, Tintoretto, and Veronese. These artists show female figures that exhibit strength and power. They are Venetian Artists that exemplify the idea of magnificent beauty and glowing essences.
#1. Titian- Venus of Urbino:
This first painting is Titian’s Venus of Urbino. This piece is done in Oil paint. This was a big turning point in Venice showing the sexuality of Women. The figure is holding flowers and posing on a bed, almost presenting herself to the viewer. The softness of the skin shows much sensual-ness to the essence of the woman. Titian used chiaroscuro giving her figure a glowing natural look. This figure is showing monumental beauty as well as an elongated figure creating the idea of power that a woman has over a man. The Venus is irresistible and is confident with her body, which influences artists in Venice to create this type of woman.
#2. Titian- Venus with the Organ Player: This piece is another part of the Venus paintings that Titian created. It again explores the power of a woman that is nude. Titian made the Venus the brightest part of the composition which creates the idea that she is the most important and heavenly. She glows with incredible softness and beauty that was common in Titian's work as well as much Venetian Renaissance work. Women where glorified and held beauty to new standards. The Venus is again elongated and has large bones tell the viewer she is in control of the situation that is happening within the painting. Titian successfully opens a doorway for many artists’ representation of women in Venice.
#3 Bellini- Young Woman at Her Toilette: Bellini’s Young Woman at Her Toilette was one of Bellini’s last paintings before his death. This piece does not show a reclined nude woman which was typical in Titian’s work but shows a strong nude woman admiring herself in a mirror. This figure has arms that are almost the size of her neck, showing much strength and beauty. In her left hand you can see the symbolizing of Venus, giving her a heavenly quality. Similar to Titians pieces the figure has soft skin that seems to illuminate, being that it is the brightest colors seen in this piece. Bellini gives us a strong representation of a strong and confident woman in Venice.
#4 Tintoretto- Susanna and the Elders: Tintoretto gives us a great representation of strong women in Venice in his Susanna and the Elders painting. This painting tells the story of two elders asking to lie with Susanna while she is bathing. Susanna then denies the men and they in turn accuse her of adultery. Susanna is found innocent and the elders are put to death. This story is a great telling of Susanna’s strength and power over the lustful men. This strength of Susanna is not only told by the story but with the imagery in Tintoretto’s piece. You can see that there is subtle chiaroscuro in Susanna’s figure giving her skin a soft texture. She is the brightest figure in this piece and seems to be a heavenly figure (reoccurring theme in Venetian Art). She even has a mirror faced towards her showing that she is aware of her beauty. Her body is long and thick, which takes up a good portion of the composition, thus insuring her power.
#5 Veronese- Judith with the Head of Holofernes: Veronese’s Judith with the Head of Holofernese is the last piece of the exhibit to show great power that women could have. This piece is the only non-nude in the piece, but shows a woman using her power to behead a man. Judith is stronger than Holofernese thus her control over his life. She is the main focus of the composition with Veronese’s careful use of chiaroscuro to make her skin illuminate the scene with softness and color. Judith seems very aware and confident of her actions and keeps the essence of Venetian sensuality and power of women.