Titian (1485 - 27 August 1576) was one of the most versatile of Italian artists, equally adept with portraits, landscape backgrounds, and mythological and religious subjects. His painting methods, particularly in the application and use of color, would exercise a profound influence not only on painters of the Italian Renaissance, but on future generations of Western art.
Titian's most famous erotic painting is the Venus of Urbino which was commissioned by the Duke of Urbino in 1534 to celebrate his marriage. It depicts a nude "Venus" reclining on a bed with her left hand placed against her groin while she stares directly at the viewer. It is based on an early work by Giorgione, Sleeping Venus which has shows "Venus" in a similar pose with her hand upon her groin. Although the nude is undoubtedly the work of Giorgione, It is believed that Giogione never completed the painting before his death, and it was in fact Titian who finished the landscape and sky.
Besides from the title, there is nothing in either of these paintings that indicates the nudes are the mythological Venus. These paintings are perfect examples of how artists would often use mythology as an excuse to paint erotic art. Needless to say, Titian painted many Venuses throughout his life for many patrons.
The true intention behind these paintings is revealed when we study the correspondence between Titian and the Duke of Urbino, who never mentioned a Venus and only ever referred to the commission as a painting of a naked woman. Shortly after its completion, the Venus of Urbino was viewed by Cardinal Farnese in the Duke's bed chamber, who then commissioned a similar nude from Titian for his own private collection, and implored Titian for his discretion so it wasn't made known that a representative of the Church had commissioned such a painting.