We don’t know who Flora was — but we do that the Venetian painter Titian was low-key obsessed with her. Titian painted the woman in this portrait 5 times, here as the Greek goddess of Spring, and as Aphrodite, then with a mirror to represent vanity, and finally as the betrayer Salome, holding the head of John the Baptist.
But why is part of her face missing? When our eyes lack input, our brains attempt to fill in the missing details in a process called visual reorganization. This feels remarkable similar to our understanding of history itself. Our lack of knowledge, like who Flora might have been, is impossible to fill in, but our imaginations kick in anyway, perhaps even more so. What is more intoxicating than a mystery, and what catches your eye more than a face obscured?
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