The painting of Flora is that of a portrait of an incredibly handsome woman. Titian's art master, Giorgione, had established a Venetian art school and the woman who was the model for Flora, was a model at the school.
The same woman also appears in many other paintings by Titian, including Salome and the Woman at the Mirror. Flora, has caused much discussion throughout the years, with relation to the meaning and role of the woman portrayed on the canvas. Reproductions that were made in the 16th Century attribute her as a prostitute.
Other views are those that the woman represents a love that is nuptial, although he dress is not consistent with this theory. What is known is that the naming of the painting as Flora clearly identified her as the goddess of Spring. This is clearly shown in her holding of delicate leaves and flowers.
Flora has been well established as Titian's most delicate and beautiful work of art. This is depicted through its warmth, soft colours and the beautiful, natural looking woman whom we observe. The painting radiates youth and love. The young and pretty woman, Flora, is in fact a goddess, and was the first in a string of paintings by Titian that portrayed natural, female beauty on canvas.
Venetians celebrated the Greek myth of Flora, the Goddess of Spring, during the week of 28th April to 3rd May, each year. This was an elaborate festival, that saw people enjoying music and dancing together. Flowers were used elaborately to decorate the environment, as well as the people who enjoyed the festivities.
The colour palette that was used is that of soft hues that helps to add an almost dreamlike quality to the image. Her hair which has gold and red streaks, has been painted in such a way so as to represent a halo. Her skin also has a translucent quality. One breast is subtly exposed, as Titian has used soft pinks and Flora's hand help to add to her modesty. This portrayal of female subtlety also helps to create a credible, sensual image of the goddess. It has been heavily rumoured that the model in the painting was indeed Titian's love and muse.
Titian created works of harmony with his obvious, yet elegant brushstrokes and use of vibrant colours. This is why many perceive Flora to be so very different to his usual artistic style. There are no obvious brushstrokes and the colours are exceptionally soft. What we observe is a woman of natural beauty, with no embellishments, or additions of colour, as none are needed. Titian simply painted what he saw before him.
Flora has been reproduced many times and has been housed in both Vienna and Bruxelles during the 16th Century. During the 17th Century, it was acquired by Archduke Leopold Wilhelm of Austria and was later on housed in Vienna at the Kunsthistorisches Museum. It was then relocated to the Uffizi, where it remains today.