Famous Greek Paintings of Gods

Famous Greek Paintings of Gods – The Best Greek Mythology Paintings

Characters from classical Greek gods paintings are inextricably linked to modern culture and life. From classic Greek mythology paintings to modern art, the tales of these deities have been repeated and reinterpreted countless times throughout the years. Today, we shall explore this mythology art by rating our favorite famous Greek paintings of gods.



Exploring Famous Greek Gods Paintings

The poetry of Ovid exerted a great effect on the psyche of poets and painters with the rediscovery of ancient antiquity in Greek Renaissance art and remained a vital inspiration in the transmission and interpretation of Greek mythology art. Greek mythology paintings were not only particularly popular throughout the Renaissance but they also reappeared during the Classical periods of the 18th and 19th centuries.

Let us now take a look at the most famous Greek paintings of gods that greatly influenced art history from the Greek Renaissance art period until today.


Pallas and the Centaur (1482) by Sandro Botticelli

Date Completed1482
MediumTempera on canvas
Dimensions204 cm x 147 cm
Current LocationUffizi, Florence

Many early Italian Renaissance painters depicted themes from Greek mythology, with disguised connections to Christianity, which had been the dominant religion in the region throughout the centuries before to the movement. Pallas with the Centaur is an artwork by Botticelli that is said to have been painted about 1482, while he was largely engaged in Rome on some of his other masterpieces.

Famous Greek Gods Paintings Pallas and the Centaur (1482) by Sandro Botticelli; Sandro Botticelli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Pallas is connected with Athena, the goddess of knowledge and innovation, whereas the centaur is generally associated with uncontrollable passion in Greek mythology. The juxtaposition of these two people has a variety of meanings, and scholars and historians debate Botticelli’s motivations for creating the picture.

Although the centaur looks to be subservient to Athena, some speculate that Athena is taming the half-man/half-beast figure in this scenario.


The Birth of Venus (1486) by Sandro Botticelli

Date Completed1486
MediumOil paint
Dimensions172 cm x 278 cm
Current LocationUffizi Gallery

Sandro Botticelli was a well-known figure during the early Renaissance period in Italy. His paintings mostly depicted Christian characters as well as highly regarded personalities from Italy’s many city-states. Botticelli’s paintings, on the other hand, are centered on Greek mythology in a way that honors the features and qualities of legendary beings while also emphasizing the various tales related to them. The Birth of Venus is considered by historians and critics to be one of Botticelli’s most well-known paintings.

This painting from 1486 depicts a landscape that has grown legendary throughout the years since it was created.

Best Greek Mythology Paintings The Birth of Venus (1486) by Sandro Botticelli; Sandro Botticelli, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In the center of the canvas, the goddess Venus, also known as Aphrodite in Greek mythology, is vividly displayed. Aphrodite was the goddess of beauty, love, and procreation in Greek mythology. On either side of Aphrodite, there are other Greco-Roman deities. These include the wind deity Zephyr, as well as others, although historians and critics disagree over the identities of these gods and goddesses.

The piece is said to have been requested by the powerful Medici family, who dominated Florence at the period, and covers numerous themes relating to historic artists.


The Triumph of Galatea (1514) by Raphael

Date Completed1514
Dimensions300 cm x 220 cm
Current LocationVilla Farnesina, Rome

Galatea is the goddess of calm waters and one of the 50 Nereides. Polyphemus, the one-eyed giant, has lured her with melodies from his primitive pipes and dairy and cheese gifts. She had, nevertheless, turned down his attempts and grown to love Acis, a rural shepherd.

Polyphemos fell into a furious frenzy after discovering the two young lovers together and squashed the youngster beneath a boulder. The nymph, overcome with sadness, changed her youthful lover into a river. Raphael chose to represent the nymph’s apogee while atop a shell-chariot pulled by two dolphins in the picture. 

The artist did not intend for Galatea to represent any actual being, but rather to depict ideal beauty, according to art historian Giorgio Vasari.

Greek Renaissance Art The Triumph of Galatea (1514) by Raphael; Vicenç Valcárcel Pérez, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons


Narcissus (1599) by Caravaggio

Date Completed1599
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions110 cm x 92 cm
Current LocationGalleria Nazionale d’Arte Antica

Narcissus’ narrative has been repeated many times in literature, with poets such as Petrarch and Dante reinterpreting it and Renaissance painters such as Caravaggio depicting it. Narcissus was renowned for his beauty, according to legend. When he became thirsty while hunting one day, he leaned against the stream and imagined himself in the prime of his life.

He fell completely in love with it, unaware that it was his own reflection, and was unable to escape the seduction of his image. When he realizes that his love will not be returned, he succumbs to his desire and transforms into a white and gold blossom.

Famous Greek Renaissance Art Narcissus (1599) by Caravaggio; Caravaggio, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This picture features Narcissus in a beautiful brocade doublet staring at his own warped image, one of two Caravaggios on a topic from Classical mythology. He is encircled by darkness and locked in a loop with his reflection, suggesting a deep sorrow.


Leda and the Swan (1600) by Peter Paul Rubens

Date Completed1600
MediumOil on panel
Dimensions64 cm x 80 cm
Current LocationCollection of Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Leda was seduced by Zeus in the shape of a swan on the very same night she had been with her husband. Later, Leda produced Zeus’ offspring Polydeuces and Helen, as well as Clytemnestra and Castor, the offspring of her husband. She lay two eggs, according to some accounts, from which the children emerged.

Women being captivated by divinities was a common theme in Renaissance and Baroque art, and it was frequently shown in a sensuous manner.

In this painting by Rubens, the swan touches Leda on her most personal spot, its neck cupped between her breasts, as the artist represented her naked. The swan is shown as an elegant creature with the ability to ravish.

Top Greek Mythology Paintings Leda and the Swan (1600) by Peter Paul Rubens; Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


The Fall of Phaeton (1605) by Peter Paul Rubens

Date Completed1605
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions98 cm x 131 cm
Current LocationNational Gallery of Art

The image illustrates the ancient Greek story of Phaeton, a frequent motif in visual arts, and was painted by artist Peter Paul Rubens. Phaeton was the son of Clymene and Helios. Helios vowed to offer him everything he desired if he provided proof that he was actually his son.

Helios attempted unsuccessfully to persuade him not to drive the sun chariot for a day when he insisted on it.

Famous Greek Mythology Paintings The Fall of Phaeton (1605) by Peter Paul Rubens; Peter Paul Rubens, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

He was eventually given command of the chariot, but because of his inability to control the horses, he approached the Earth too closely, and Zeus knocked him down with a bolt to avert a calamity. Phaeton died as a result of falling from the chariot to the ground. Rubens chose to show the narrative at its most dramatic moment when Zeus’ thunderbolts slam into Phaeton’s chariot.

The hours and seasons are represented by the butterfly winged feminine figures around him, who respond in panic when the day and night cycle is broken by the accident.


Prometheus Bound (1612) by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders

Date Completed1612
MediumOil paint
Dimensions244 cm x 210 cm
Current LocationPhiladelphia Museum of Art

Peter Paul Rubens was a well-known 17th-century artist who was known for depicting legendary figures from both Greco-Roman mythologies in his paintings. He is regarded as one of the most important Baroque artists, and he was friends and partners with many of the movement’s other masterpieces, including Diego Velázquez and others. Prometheus Bound was one of Rubens’ most beloved paintings during his lifetime.

The painting was completed in 1612 and was a joint effort with another well-known artist, Frans Snyders.

Best Mythology Art Prometheus Bound (1612) by Peter Paul Rubens and Frans Snyders; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

It is one of the designer’s earliest works to receive great appreciation. Rubens painted the figure of Prometheus, while Snyders produced the gigantic eagle. Since its creation, the artwork has been hailed for its uniqueness and extraordinary realism in depicting the fabled account of Prometheus, which speaks of his liver being consumed by eagles on a daily basis.


Sleeping Venus (c. 1630) by Artemisia Gentileschi

Date Completedc. 1630
MediumOil paint
Dimensions96 cm x 143 cm
Current LocationVirginia Museum of Fine Arts

Her father’s artistic technique, as well as that of his renowned partner, Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, impacted Artemisia Gentileschi’s works, which are distinguished by the dramatic juxtaposition of light and dark as well as distinctive, striking compositions.

Her subject matter frequently comprises of beautifully presented depictions of women, for example, either as protagonists or victims.

Greek Gods Paintings Venus and Cupid (c. 1630) by Artemisia Gentileschi; Artemisia Gentileschi, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

Artemisia Gentileschi has painted an opulent depiction of Venus, dozing beneath a velvet drape. Her bedcover is colored with ultramarine, a costly color derived from crushed lapis lazuli. Cupid, behind her, carries a peacock-feather fan to deter bugs from bothering or awakening her. A hilly terrain with a little round temple, evocative of the one devoted to Venus near Hadrian’s home in Tivoli, which is just outside Rome, may be seen on the left.


Telemachus and the Nymphs of Calypso (1782) by Angelica Kauffman

Date Completed1782
MediumOil paint
Dimensions82 cm x 182 cm
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art

Angelica Kauffman was originally from Switzerland but rose to prominence in England and Italy, where she had been a founder of the Royal Academy of Arts. This picture and its pendant were created for Monsignor Onorato Caetani, who had his likeness created by the artist that very same year.

Later pictures of Caetani by Batoni in 1782 illustrate to the close-knit, multinational nature of 18th-century Roman academic circles.

The sculpture shows Telemachus’ landing to Calypso’s island. Her nymphs greet him with food, wine, and flowers. The deity Athena, masquerading as the old person, had been his advisor, and is portrayed being taken away to the left by the sprites.

Greek Mythology Paintings Telemachus and the Nymphs of Calypso (1782) by Angelica Kauffman; Angelica Kauffmann, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons


Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864) by Gustave Moreau

Date Completed1864
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions206 cm x 105 cm
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art

Gustave Moreau’s oil-on-canvas painting, produced in 1864, is a new take on the fabled meeting between the two mythical characters on the route to Delphi, which was famously depicted in Sophocles’ play Oedipus Rex. Oedipus discovered that the king, Laius, had lately been murdered and that the kingdom was at the whim of the sphinx during his trek between Delphi and Thebes.

The sphinx offered Oedipus a puzzle to answer in order for him to pass. Failure to do so would result in his death as well as the death of the imprisoned Thebans.

Famous Mythology Art Paintings Oedipus and the Sphinx (1864) by Gustave Moreau; Gustave Moreau, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

The sphinx sacrificed herself by hurling herself into the sea when Oedipus solved it properly, and Oedipus became the new king. Moreau embraced a purposely antique painting technique and mythical subject matter, purposefully rejecting the prevailing realism of the mid-19th century. The sphinx is on the attack in the piece, clutching at Oedipus, whose success in the battle is not yet secured.


Pygmalion and Galatea (1890) by Jean-Léon Gérôme

Date Completed1890
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions89 cm x 67 cm
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art

Jean-Léon Gérôme was a well-known French painter who specialized in Greek mythology paintings. He lived in the 19th century, but unlike many of his colleagues, he was not strongly affiliated with popular movements such as Impressionism.

Gérôme created a number of paintings that are among the most well-known Greek gods paintings still in existence today, but one of his finest masterpieces is regarded to be the most important of them all.

Mythology Art Paintings Pygmalion and Galatea (1890) by Jean-Léon Gérôme; Jean-Léon Gérôme, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Pygmalion and Galatea is the title of the picture, which was finished in 1890. It shows a scene from a well-known poem by Ovid. The picture portrays Pygmalion, the sculptor, kissing the goddess Aphrodite as she comes to life, as described in the Iliad.

The piece is extremely detailed, comparable to many of Gérôme’s other works, and many critics feel it closely reflects the artist’s real workshop, which housed several of the artists’ statues.


The Lament for Icarus (1898) by Herbert James Draper

Date Completed1898
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions180 cm x 150 cm
Current LocationTate Britain, London

Another artist recognized for his mythology art that generally centered around Greek myths is Herbert James Draper. Draper, who was born in England in 1863, was a well-known artist who specialized in depicting people and themes from Greek and Roman mythology.

Many of Draper’s works are among the most well-known Classical masterpieces of the 19th century.

Most Famous Greek Paintings of Gods The Lament for Icarus (1898) by Herbert James Draper; Herbert James Draper, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

This artwork is said to have been produced around 1898, near the close of a period in which the painter concentrated his attention on painting scenes from Greek mythology. Although many of the more well-known paintings depicting the story of Icarus focus on the instant of his fall, Draper’s painting focuses on the period following Icarus’ death.

Icarus is encircled by nymphs, and this picture is regarded as one of Draper’s best by several of the most eminent late-19th-century art critics.


Perseus and Andromeda (1891) by Frederic Leighton

Date Completed1891
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions235 cm x 129 cm
Current LocationWalker Art Gallery, Liverpool

Andromeda’s mythical subject is presented in a spectacular manner. On a rocky coastline, the setting is a portrayal of the tale. On his winged horse Pegasus, Perseus is pictured flying over the head of Andromeda. He fires an arrow from the air, which strikes the sea monster, who raises his head to face the hero. The black creature’s wings shade Andromeda’s virtually bare, twisted form, offering a visual hint of impending doom. Additionally, Andromeda’s graceful form contrasts with the monster’s uneven and jagged body’s black bulk.

Andromeda’s white body is represented in pristine and undamaged purity, implying an unjust sacrifice for heavenly retribution intended at her mother rather than herself.

Mythology Art Perseus and Andromeda (1891) by Frederic Leighton; Frederic Leighton, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

A halo of light surrounds Pegasus and Perseus, symbolically connecting them to the royal’s white body tied to the rock. Before beginning work on the painting, Leighton created a miniature bronze-colored plaster figure of Andromeda as a study.

The figurine was nude, but Leighton covered it with wet materials to obtain the look he desired in his piece.


Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) by John William Waterhouse

Date Completed1891
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions100 cm x 200 cm
Current LocationNational Gallery of Victoria

John William Waterhouse was another English artist who adopted the Academic group’s aesthetic but was most known for his paintings showing legendary creatures dressed in costumes and other clothing that was fashionable in England at the time. Ulysses with the Sirens is one of Waterhouse’s most well-known works. This 1891 artwork shows the well-known narrative of Ulysses, with the Greek figure chained to the ship’s mast in an attempt to keep him from submitting to the Sirens’ seduction.

The demonic songstresses were shown by Waterhouse as soaring bird-like entities with female heads.

Famous Mythology Art Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) by John William Waterhouse; John William Waterhouse, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons


Ariadne (1913) by Giorgio de Chirico

Date Completed1913
MediumOil on canvas
Dimensions135 cm x 180 cm
Current LocationMetropolitan Museum of Art

In Greek mythology, Ariadne was a princess who fell madly in love with Theseus, who pledged to slay the Minotaur, a fantastic creature with a man’s body and a bull’s head brought to Minos for tribute by Poseidon. She gave him a blade and a spool of thread to aid him in his quest, so he could backtrack his steps out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth.

She disgraced her father and nation by eloping with Theseus after he slew the beast. However, he left her asleep on the island of Naxos, where Dionysus found her and married her. 

Giorgio de Chirico showed Ariadne sleeping in an unoccupied public plaza in this early 20th-century artwork. The piece represents de Chirico’s personal sentiments of loneliness after relocating to Paris in 1911, according to the information given by the Metropolitan Museum of Art.


That concludes our look at the famous Greek paintings of gods that influenced not only Greek Renaissance art but still impact artists until this very day. With the discovery of classical antiquities in Greek Renaissance art, Ovid’s poetry had a significant impact on the mind of poets and painters, and it remained a major inspiration in the transfer and understanding of Greek mythological art. Not only were Greek mythology paintings popular throughout the Renaissance, but they also resurfaced during the Classical eras of the 18th and 19th centuries.



Take a look at our Greek mythology paintings webstory here!



Frequently Asked Questions


What Is Mythology Art?

Mythological images, traditionally defined as a type of history painting, are based on topics borrowed from mythology – that is, legendary narratives constructed to explain a specific belief, major event, or natural truth. Fables, tales, and historical stories can all serve as inspiration for mythological images. Whatever their origins, these images typically feature figure painting and are generally created in a huge size.


Why Did Artists Portray Greek Gods?

Greek mythology has been the attention of artists from a variety of creative groups dating back well before the Italian Renaissance. Individuals in classical Greece loved and adored deities who had interesting personalities and features that set them apart from one another. Throughout history, many painters have based their works on the stories and traditions linked with Greek mythical heroes.


Cite this Article

Isabella, Meyer, “Famous Greek Paintings of Gods – The Best Greek Mythology Paintings.” Art in Context. June 9, 2022. URL: https://artincontext.org/famous-greek-paintings-of-gods/

Meyer, I. (2022, 9 June). Famous Greek Paintings of Gods – The Best Greek Mythology Paintings. Art in Context. https://artincontext.org/famous-greek-paintings-of-gods/

Meyer, Isabella. “Famous Greek Paintings of Gods – The Best Greek Mythology Paintings.” Art in Context, June 9, 2022. https://artincontext.org/famous-greek-paintings-of-gods/.

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