Joy of Museums

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Mythological Paintings

Sandro Botticelli - La nascita di Venere - Google Art Project - edited

Mythological Paintings

Mythology is that body of myths that have played a fundamental role in the development of society, culture and civilisations. Myths have acted as foundational stories and to help explain the world in the absence of modern knowledge. They started as traditional tales invented to explain specific beliefs, historical events, or facts of nature. Myths are as old as humanity, and historically they were endorsed by rulers and priests who linked them to religion or spirituality or the ruler’s authority for status.

Mythology in Art started in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt and was established as a popular art form by the Greeks in their sculptures. Mythological Paintings emerged in popularity during the Renaissance when the great Renaissance masters added the humanist dimension to Greek and Roman mythology. The development of mythological painting extended into the 19th century Romanticism, as well as the aesthetics of academic art as championed by the major European academies of fine art well into modern times.

The most popular list of Mythological Paintings featured on “Joy of Museums” is derived from a list of paintings that are the most searched for on the web and on this website.

Most 20th century paintings, have copyright restrictions, limiting our ability to feature many modern artists. Approval to use images of works that are still under copyright have been requested, and we hope to receive appropriate permissions to feature more recent art.



“We hunger to understand, so we invent myths about how we imagine the world is constructed – and they are, of course, based upon what we know.”  
– Carl Sagan


Photo Credit: By Giovan Battista Gaulli – Beauvais, Musée départemental de l’Oise ([1] – Olio su tela, cm. 149 x 222) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons