Green mythology has received popular attention and fame thanks to history, movies, animations, poetry, books, and classical paintings. Classical artists and fans of art loved to portray their gods and goddesses in Greek mythology paintings because they had distinctive features. Most of these Greek renaissance paintings portrayed dramatic events or poetic Greek fables. 

Ariadne (1913) by Giorgio de Chirico

Ariadne is an oil on canvas painting by Giorgio de Chirico, finished in 1913. It is measured 135 cm x 180 cm and currently hangs in the Metropolitan Museum of Art. This Greek mythology painting depicts Ariadne sleeping alone in an empty plaza.

In Greek mythology, humans and gods fell in love and even had sexual relations that produced half-god children called demigods. One such story is of Ariadne, a princess, and Theseus, the son of Poseidon, god of the sea. Although they weren’t in a relationship and didn’t have children, their relationship is still worthy of note. 

Theseus had pledged to slaughter a Minotaur (a creature with a bull’s head and a man’s body) that Poseidon brought to Minos for tribute. Hearing this, Ariadne fell in love with Theseus and gave him a spool of thread and a blade to help him backtrack and find his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth after the deed had been done. 

After Theseus had slain the beast, Ariadne eloped with him, bringing disgrace and embarrassment to her family. Unfortunately for her, Theseus left her asleep on the island of Naxos, where Dionysus found her. Ariadne later married Dionysus after he found her. 

Sleeping Venus (1630) by Artemisia Gentileschi

In Greek mythology, Venus was a goddess symbolizing love, fertility, victory, and beauty, among other themes. In this Greek goddess painting, Artemisia Gentileschi paints Venus lounging asleep in affluence with a Cupid providing cool air. 

The painting depicts Venus lying completely naked on an ultramarine bed cover, a costly color at the time, gotten from crushed lapis lazuli. Behind her, Cupid holds a peacock feather hand fan and uses it to prevent bugs from disturbing the goddess’ sleep. 

By the left is a window overlooking a landscape. A little round temple on a hill looks similar to the temple dedicated to Venus. The temple is near Hadrian’s home in Tivoli, just outside Rome. 

The painter Artemisia Gentileschi, her works were greatly influenced by Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio, a partner of her father. Her father also inspired her and often used his artistic technique in her paintings. Sleeping Venus is currently displayed at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Ulysses and the Sirens (1891) by John William Waterhouse

Finished in 1892, Ulysses and the Sirens is a 100 cm x 200 cm oil on canvas painting by John William Waterhouse. The paintings depict the famous story of Ulysses and the Sirens. It’s on display at the National Gallery of Victoria.

Ulysses and the Sirens show Ulysees chained to the mast on a ship with some men rowing down the rocky river path and surrounded by Sirens. It shows the sirens (mythical creatures with a bird’s body and woman’s head known for seduction through song) doing what they know to do best, calling men to their destruction. They had chained him there to prevent him from heeding the sirens’ call. 

This painting is one of John William Waterhouse’s famous pieces. He’s known to adorn legendary creatures in fashionable English clothing and costume, despite belonging to the Academic faction of art. 

Perseus and Andromeda (1891) by Frederic Leighton

Frederic Leighton paints a picture of light vs. darkness in this 1891 piece. In this painting, Andromeda is receiving protection from Perseus under a sea creature’s wings. It depicts a sorrowful picture of Andromeda on a rocky coastline, hiding under the dark wings of a fiery sea creature. 

Above, Perseus is seated on his winged horse, Pegasus, and poised to attack Andromeda, having sent an arrow below that pierced the creature’s flesh instead. Frederic Leighton paints a bright, golden halo around Perseus and his mythical horse.

The sea monster’s black body shields Andromeda’s barely clad body from Perseus’s attacks. Fire and smoke billow from the monster’s mouth into the air as if ready to burn Perseus and Pegasus. 

Originally, Andromeda’s figure was nude in this portrait, but Leighton covered it partly with a bright white cloth to achieve the look and feel he wanted. Before painting the main work, he also made a miniature bronze-plaster statue of Andromeda as his study of her body. 

Leda and the Swan (1600) by Peter Paul Rubens

Here’s another mythology painting about gods having relationships of an intimate nature with humans. Leda was a human woman whom Zeus, a god famous for seducing women, had seduced. He took the shape of a swan and lay with her the same night she did the same with her husband. 

The result of this seduction was two demigods named Helen and Polydeuces. According to some rumors and accounts of the event, Leda didn’t give birth to the children normally. Instead, some say she gave birth to eggs from which the children came out. Leda also had other children, but they were for her husband. The children were named Clytemnestra and Castor.

In this painting, Peter Rubens shows Zeus as a swan, lying with a nude Leda with his swan neck between her breasts. Zeus is seen snuggling Leda with his beak touching Leda’s cheeks sensuously. Leda and The Swan were completed in 1600 as an oil on canvas 64 cm x 80 cm painting. At the time of this article, it was housed at the Collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.


Greek mythology paintings often depict love stories and notable events involving gods, goddesses, and mythical creatures that reportedly took place within the Greek universe. The ones mentioned above are only but a few. You would enjoy exploring these and other Greek renaissance paintings about Greek deities.