Greek gods and mythology have become a part of several cultures. They are recognized and portrayed in movies, books, art, etc. The representation of Greek gods in art proves that we need not worship someone to be influenced by their character, life, status, way of living, etc.
Similarly, Greek gods have been a part of art since they allegedly ruled the world and walked the streets. From then till today, there have been numerous artworks that have been inspired by them and became a part of the artist’s imagination.
This article will talk about some of the most well-known paintings crafted by reputed artists and try to know the story behind that painting.
Oedipus and the Sphinx – Gustave Moerau
This painting depicts the meeting between Oedipus and the Sphinx when the former traveled to Delphi. This meeting is essential because it is the first time Oedipus meets Sphinx after the king of Thebes, Laius.
As the city was hostage to Sphinx, Oedipus was asked to solve a riddle to enter the city. But Oedipus answered it correctly, and Sphinx threw herself into the sea, killing herself making Oedipus king of the city.
Gustave Moreau created this scene with a new approach divergent from the existing notions of realism and naturalism. Instead, Gustave chose the archaic painting style, which suited the mythological world and its characteristics.
The Triumph of Virtue – Andrea Mantegna
The Triumph of Virtue is drawn by Andrea Mantegna and is currently placed at the Musee du Louvre, Paris. The painting shows a fence surrounding the entire scene, and there are several characters bundled together over a marsh. It is shown that the vices rule over the marsh; we can also see some grotesque figures in the painting.
This was the scene when Athena kicked Aphrodite out of the Garden of Virtue. The painting is a sort of moral guidance for the spectators as it portrays the possibility of kicking out the vices as they are shown chased by the protagonist in the artwork.
The painter here continued his willingness to explore and experiment with the Perspective style of painting. It is about lowering the horizon around the scene to ensure that other aspects get greater importance.
The Fall of Phaeton – Paul Rubens
The Fall of Phaeton is a Greek myth, which has been recreated several times by different artists throughout the years. Phaeton was the son of Clymene and Helios, the ocean and solar deities, respectively.
The story goes like this; Phaeton one day asked to take control of the Sun’s chariot to prove that he is a son of God. Hesitantly, Helios gave him control over the chariot, but he couldn’t control the chariot and went too close to Earth. So Zeus threw a thunderbolt at him to prevent a disaster, and Phaeton died from the blow, after which he fell on Earth.
Peter Paul Rubens painted this masterpiece after completing his journey from Antwerp to Italy, and in between, he visited Venice, Mantua, and even Rome. As a result, Paul Rubens absorbed the painting styles popular in these regions and was also influenced by the contemporary artistic maneuvers by artists like Caravaggio. This led Rubens to change his painting style, and the Fall of Phaeton is a living example of this transition.
The Triumph of Galatea – Raphael
Another mythological story comes to the canvas, in the form of a Greek goddess painting. This time it was from the hands of Raphael, who painted the parable of how Polyphemus crushed the sea goddess’s lover under a rock. Polyphemus was a one-eyed giant who used to offer milk and cheese to the sea goddess.
But the goddess refused the giant’s love to fall for a peasant named Acis. Polyphemus grew jealous and, out of rage, killed her lover. The sea goddess, Galatea, later turned her lover in a stream and named it Acis.
The painting shows the triumph of Galatea later, and she is seen riding a chariot pulled by two dolphins. Other characters in the painting include tritons abducting a sea nymph, and one of them is blowing a shell trumpet.
This painting by Raphael is not a direct reference to the battle or the story of Galatea losing Acis. Instead, the purpose was to show the beauty of Greek mythology, which extends to almost every aspect of life.
The Raft Of The Medusa – Theodore Gericault
The Raft of Medusa is one of the best examples of the Romanticism style of painting, and it was painted by Theodore Gericault when he was only 27 years old. The painting shows the aftermath of the wrecked ship Meduse, a naval frigate class war vessel on what today is called Mauritania.
Theodore Gericault launched his career with this painting, and it was an uncommissioned work but was of high interest at the time. To create this painting, the painter interviewed two of the survivors of the wrecked ship to get the details of the entire scene.
Greek history or mythology is full of exciting parables, elegant beauty, and unimaginable iconic scenes. Still, the painters attempting to depict their stories must have had an incredible vision to show things with colors and portray the full story with nothing but colors and characters.
While these paintings are nothing short of a marvel, you can have any one of them hanging in your living room by commissioning a replica from the 1st Art Gallery. Knowing about Greek mythology is a fantastic feat to accomplish, and here you have your chance to show your interest in the same to everyone.