Venus of Urbino, 1536–1538, measures 3′ 11” x 5′ 5”. Titian used oil on canvas as it was the preferred medium of art in the West on this most famous and beloved painting. He has also set a standard for representations of the reclining female nude whether divine or mortal as stated in the book Gardner’s Art Through The Ages. The painting was painted for Guidobaldo II, who was later crowned the Duke of Urbino in the year 1539. Tiziano Vecelli was Titian’s full name and he was one of the most inventive and tremendous Venetian painters.
It is known that Titian was at the heights of his powers when he painted this painting. This particular painting becomes significance in the history because of its iconography, strong sensuality and the incredible softness it displays. The famous painting Olympia painted in 1865, by Eduard Manet received much negative and overwhelming response from the critics of the era, just like the artists most works did.
The painting was made based on the original painting Venus of Urbino by Titian. This painting is also considered as one of Manet’s most controversial and groundbreaking work. It is also agreed upon by most art historians that Olympia was first truly modern painting.
These two very significant paintings in the history of art have many characteristics common and many of those which contrast with each other. Both painting being of that a female nude display female figures reclining on which appears to be a bed, Olympia is presented to the viewer in a modern way whereas Venus of Urbino shows a traditional bedchamber and is considered divine by many critics. The paintings show how perseverance can paly such a big role in a piece of art.
How a female figure was seen by two different artists in different eras of history, and how the political and technical facts played their course on the art is remarkable.The Venus of Urbino in Venetian period given the techniques used in the painting. Techniques that Titian used included a very strict process. He was a magnificent colorist. He used oil on canvas whereas many other painters were using oil on tempera or wood.
Chiaroscuro technique is used in combination with the glazing creates a sense of soft and glowing flesh. Glazing includes thin layers of oil paint which are also to be known as Velatura. This technique allows to unify the tone of the image and makes it look more subtle and soft. The painting consists of deep Venetian red color and also the sensual and carnal color of the flowers, cushions and the skirt of the woman in the background. Perspective was one more aspect Titian has used many times in his paintings. We can see the clear division of the foreground, middle ground, and the background. There is a perfect sense of contrast between the background with dark deep colors and the female with wonderfully soft, warm flesh and tones of classical nude.
Whereas Olympia by Manet displays his obvious brushwork and patch technique. The painting was commented to be a flat and un-modeled figure. It appeared to be hard light and heavily outlined, ugly, unfeminine and dirty. Venus of Urbino gives the viewer sensuous feel, whereas Olympia is more straightforward and gazes at the viewer with no sensuality or coy. Unlike Titian’s Venus of Urbino, Olympia shows pale skin of the female and looks less feminine.