Venus on a dolphin (1503) by Albrecht Durer

Venus on a dolphin - Albrecht Durer - 1503

Artwork Information

TitleVenus on a dolphin
ArtistAlbrecht Durer
Art MovementNorthern Renaissance
Current LocationAlbertina, Vienna, Austria

About Venus on a dolphin

“Venus on a dolphin” is a work by Albrecht Dürer, dated to 1503. This piece reflects the Northern Renaissance movement, falling into the category of mythological painting. The original is held in the Albertina museum in Vienna, Austria.

The artwork depicts the Roman goddess Venus, who is associated with love, beauty, and fertility, seated on a dolphin, which is a creature often linked to marine deities in classical mythology. The image captures Venus in a demure pose, with her body slightly turned and looking over her shoulder. She holds an ornate staff adorned with flowers, which could symbolize aspects of nature and growth, possibly alluding to her role as a fertility goddess.

Dürer’s intricate linework is visible in the careful handling of Venus’s hair, the texture of the dolphin, and the detailed splash of water to the right. The dorsal fin of the dolphin is rendered with feather-like detail, adding a fantastical element to the creature, while the face of the dolphin has a somewhat playful expression.

In typical Dürer fashion, the level of detail in this drawing showcases his skill in using line to define form and texture. His monogram, ‘AD’, and the year of the work’s completion, ‘1503’, are inscribed in the top right corner. The overall composition radiates with the beauty and harmony characteristic of Renaissance art, even as it carries the distinct, intricate details found in Northern Renaissance works.

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