Mesmerizing Greek Myths and Biblical Stories 

This gallery is a collection of pieces from some of the renaissance’s and baroque eras greatest artists. The running theme beside the incredible visual display of talent will be, as the title implies, mythology and biblical stories. I will also shed light on the theme of primary colors to draw attention to the main characters or key components of the composition the viewer should focus on. 

By: JoLynna Kohler

The outstanding artist Artemisia Genelesci gained power and a voice through her traumatic experience of being sexually assaulted. She decided to turn the art world upside down by depicting scenes of mythology where the woman has the upper hand and the power against male suppressers. This piece does just that by telling the story of Judith and Holofernes. In this painting Artemisia uses dramatic light to emphasize her story and this style is called baroque. We also have the three primary colors in the main focus of this piece. The red blanket cover Holofernes, Judith is wearing a yellow dress and the sheet underneath Holofernes is blue.
This oil on canvas painting by Titan also depicts a mythological story. This piece s specifically about the rape of Europa. Europa was a beautiful princess and Jupitor the most powerful of the gods, believes she is beautiful and wants her. He disguises himself as a bull and befriends Europa and deceives her by taking her to an island and raping her. Although this painting has a horrific story, it is technically mesmerizing. The colors seem like a sunset and almost heavenly. Here titian also utilizes the primary colors through the red of the sheet or blanket Europa is holding. Blue in the sky, mountains and water. As well as the yellow for the clouds and mountains.
This piece commissioned by the Medici family was painted by Sandro Botticelli. The Birth of Venus was taken from the writings of the ancient poet, Homer. In this mythological story Venus was born and rode a seashell to the shore, with Zephyrus carrying the nymph Chloris while he blows air towards Venus trying to guide her to shore. The figure on the left is Pomona the goddess of spring ready to cover her and embrace her. Here we also see a strong use of the primary colors. Red is shown in the blanket Pomona is holding. Blue is most prominent in the clothing covering Chloris. Last yellow is used to highlight the seashell that Venus is standing on in a contrapposto-like stance.
This painting by Caravaggio is using a baroque style to illustrate the sacrifice of Isaac. In this mythological tale Abraham believed that god told him to kill his son and so following the word of god he lured his son to the altar he had built to sacrifice him. But right as he was about to do it an angel came to him and told him to stop. Here the primary colors are used but it is hard to find this triad with such dramatic lighting. The red is used to highlight Abraham’s clothes. The yellow is to highlight the skin of the angel and the horrified look on Isaac’s face. While the blue is in the background at the upper right corner.
This oil on canvas is about the mythical creature Medusa. A woman with eyes that if looked in will turn you to stone. She also had snakes where her hair would be. This piece was commissioned by the Medici and illustrates the shock and surprise of Medusa being beheaded. She had though herself to be invincible and the look on her face shows it. The primary colors are front and center. With the yellow prominently for her face. The vivid red to show her blood of defeat and the blue to highlight and add dimension.
The painting by Rubens illustrates a bacchanal which is essentially a large party or in some interpretations and orgy. In Rubens’s actually loved this seen of the celebration of Bacchus and Venus so much it is a copy of Titian’s version. Except Rubens’s has more of a muted palate and not as crisp and obvious figures. The primary colors are used to highlight Bacchus the god of wine which is in the middle wearing the blue. While other prominent figures like Venus are dressed in yellow, blue and also red.
The Primavera (Spring) is a painting of a mythological story with Venus at the center. He paints Venus in her secret grove with an unobstructed view to the the people viewing the painting. As if the artist is inviting you into the painting. This is a scene where Venus, Zephyr, Chloris, Cupid, the three graces and Flora. They are all put into a a ethereal wooded scene where time and space seem to be non existent. The triad of the primary colors is also seen here through the immediate draw to Venus’s red clothing. Zephyr the god of the wind is in a vivid blue and the yellow is shown in all of the figures detailed and illustrious hair.
In this Oil on canvas painting by Rubens St. Sebastion is a martyr who in this scenario survives the attack by a bowman. He then protested publicly against the persecution of Christians to the Roman emperor, which then gets him killed. The dramatic and contrasting lighting was something Rubens had learned from Caravaggio a baroque artist. The primary colors are also used here to highlight the red blood, the yellow arrows and the blue stormy background.
Rembrandt was a baroque artist who painted this Christian art piece. This story from the Old Testament is horrible in nature but beautiful visual masterpiece. This story depicts the powerful hero Samson and his beloved Delilah with her accomplices wounding the man and cutting of his hair. His hair was significant because he had not cut it since birth. The use of the primary colors is very obvious once again in this painting. The red and blue are to highlight Delilah and her evil accomplices while the soft and almost holly yellow is used to show Samson in his struggle of betrayal.
I chose this piece because it was a striking mythical painting of Venus that I did not first think was done by Artemisia. Most of her paintings are angry and violent with incredibly dramatically lighting. However, this oil on canvas painting is everything but that. In this piece she shows Venus laying peacefully asleep on a bed. While cupid is above her with feathers in hand. This female artist may have been coming to terms with her traumatic experience of sexual assault and this may have been a display of that through a non violent painting. The primary colors used to highlight are in the soft blue of the blanket she is laying on. The red pillows and curtains that are near and under Venus’s head. Last the yellow is in the details of the embroidery and the tips of the peacock feathers.
Credits: All media
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