The Rokeby Venus is a mid-17th century painting by Diego Velázquez, commissioned for Spain’s Royal Court. The artwork depicts the goddess Venus in a sensual pose, lying on a bed and looking into a mirror held by Cupid. This is the only surviving female nude by Velázquez and is considered one of his most celebrated works.
Velázquez’s utilization of chiaroscuro and atmospheric perspective highlights specific points to the viewer. It creates an overall breathtakingly beautiful composition that captures the essence of Venus in all her beauty. “The Rokeby Venus” had a turbulent history as it faced criticism in the 17th century and even became a focus for suffragette protests during the 20th century.
According to art historians, “The Rokeby Venus” was completed between 1649 and 1650 while Velázquez was in Rome. The painting hung in Rokeby Park located in County Durham for much of the 19th century before entering London’s National Gallery in 1906. This artwork showcases Velazquez’s exemplary talent but also highlights society’s complex relationship with nudity throughout history.
Overall, “The Rokeby Venus” by Diego Velázquez remains an iconic piece widely recognized globally due to its beauty, style and enriched history attached to it that illustrates how nudity evolved over time from being unacceptable to more accepted form through art appreciation.