CulturalSignificance of Titian`s Venus of Urbino

Introductionand subject matter of the artwork

TizianoVecellio painted the Venusof Urbino forthe Duke of Urbino, Guidobaldo II della Rovere, in 1538 (Robinson82).The painting shows a youthful female figure holding a bouquet offlowers and her left hand is placed between her thighs. The paintinghas dense iconographic readings and sensitive use of colors, form,and composition. The painter accentuates the woman’s sensuality byusing the contrast between the warm colors used to depict her bodyand the dark background (Kleiner533).The coordinates of the architecture, the wall hangings, and thepavement are brought together in a neat bisection with the darkscene. Additionally, a thick cloth separates the left section at theback of the painting and the right side, which creates athree-dimensional image (Loh 8).

Culturalcontext of the artwork

Thehistorical context of the painting is open to different translationsas the viewer can either interpret the woman’s look as that ofmarital love or lust. Even so, the woman in the painting celebrates adifferent set of values, and her function is more social due to thefeatures in her surroundings. The female figure has a dog at herfeet, and the floral symbols illustrate the permanent bond of maritalaffection and fidelity (Kleiner534). On the other hand, the house cleaner in the backgroundsymbolizes motherhood. The viewer can also see a myrtle tree on thewindowsill, which symbolizes the Hebrew symbol of marriagecharacterized by love and commitment.

Culturalsignificance of the artwork

Thepainting is culturally significant because it was intended for theDuke’s young wife as a reminder of her marital obligations. Thepolitical, economic, and social situation of women in the 16thcentury all contributed to Titian’s interpretation of the woman heportrayed in the painting (Loh 20). Titian’s work was an exercisein female eroticism, which was common during the Renaissance period.The Venusof Urbino representsa common cultural notion during the 16th century of the duality thatevery woman must maintain in a marriage (Kleiner536).A married woman must be seductive for her husband, and she must showmotherly characteristics symbolized in the background. Therefore, awoman was expected to a caregiver, a seductive goddess, and a loyalcompanion. It also shows that love and affection sustained the sociallife in the society (Lodwick113)

Inconclusion, Titian’s Venusof Urbino isone of the most celebrated paintings of the Renaissance period. Theartpresentsthe classical example of the female nude portrayed in theRenaissance’s culture. The artwork is culturally significantbecause it highlighted the many social responsibilities of a marriedwoman using the bridal context as the most distinctive detail of thepainting. Accordingly, it shows a culture that emphasized on thephysical beauty of a woman, but also considered it necessary for awoman to be a loyal companion and portray characteristics ofmotherhood.


Kleiner,Fred S. Gardner`sArt through the Ages: The Western Perspective.Cengage Learning, 2016. Print.

Lodwick,Marcus. TheMuseum Companion: Understanding Western Art.New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., Publishers, 2003. Print.

Loh,Maria H. TitianRemade: Repetition and the Transformation of Early Modern ItalianArt.Los Angeles, Calif: Getty Museum, 2007. Print.

Robinson,Walter. InstantArt History: From Cave Art to Pop Art.New York: Fawcett Columbine, 1995. Print