In the following words one will compare and contrast the visual elements and
symbolism of Titian’s Venus of Urbino 1538 oil on canvas and Lucas Cranach’s Nymph of the
Spring 1537 oil on panel. Both works were created during the High renaissance period. They
both depict sensual and provocative reclining nude women. But the women are set in entirely
different scenes and metaphors. In Venus of Urbino the woman is shown in a luxurious and
domestic setting with an inviting expression and gesture. In The Nymph of the Spring, the
woman is in an Earthly and organic landscape and has an ambiguous look in her eye. One will
evaluate the symbolism in their environments. Are they only comparable on the outside, or
does the allegory mirror even further?
In Venus of Urbino there is a deliberate provocative essence of the woman depicted as
Venus, the goddess of love beauty and fertility. She gazes at the viewer with a sensual and
alluring look in her eyes, inviting you in. It feels as if one is entering a private and intimate
setting. She reclines in a relaxed position, leaning on her right arm, her left placed in between
her legs; this draws the eye from her hip down the line of her leg to her foot. Is this position
suggesting a sense of self-consciousness? Although the frankness of her expression suggests
otherwise, it may rather be a suggestive gesture. In her right hand she holds a bundle of roses,
symbolizing her divine love. Venus’ body is very idealized and naturalistic. Her soft curves
display her pureness and beauty.
Her skin and hair are bright and seem to glow, off-set by the white sheets underneath
her. The indoor setting of a lavish palace shows she is domesticated and is of much wealth. In
the background there are servants preparing her clothing to dress her, with one kneeling down
in front of a chest. This woman is shown much smaller in comparison to the standing servant.
The overlooking of the woman above her gives a...