The Birth of Venus
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The Birth of Venus
Categories : Fine ART
The Birth of Venus is without doubt one of the most famous and beloved works of art in the world. Painted by Sandro Botticelli between 1482 and 1485, it has become a symbol of 15th century Italian art, full of allegorical meanings and references to antiquity.
The motif comes from Latin literature; more precisely from Ovid's Metamorphoses. Venus is portrayed standing naked on a shell that sails on the surface of the sea; flying in the winds to her left is a cascade of roses, to her right a handmaiden (Ora) waits to dress the goddess. In a meadow we can see violets, a symbol of modesty and often used to make love potions.
In the painting can also be read some references to the famous poetic work, the Stanze of Agnolo Poliziano, a contemporary of Botticelli and greatest Neo-Platonic poet of the Medici court. Neoplatonism was the philosophical movement that tried to mediate between its Greco-Roman cultural heritage and Christianity.
There is therefore a perceptible philosophical meaning linked to Neoplatonism: the work would represent the birth of Love and spiritual beauty as the driving force of life.
The iconography of Venus is definitely derived from the classic theme of Venus Pudica shyly covering her intimate parts, and its counterpart can be found in the sculpture Venus de’ Medici in the Uffizi Gallery.
Indeed, the Medici had commissioned the work: Venus, like Spring and Pallas, belonged to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco dei Medici, cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent.
And as Poliziano was a great poet of written verse, so Botticelli was one of the greatest ‘poets’ of line and drawing.
His technique was exceptional, as were the materials he employed. His work is the first example in Tuscany of a painting on a large canvas. His special use of alabaster powder also gives the painting its bright, timeless colours.
Behind the cultured interpretation of the painting you can definitely read an ode to the Florentine family who commissioned the work: the beginning of ‘the reign of Love’ arrived in Florence thanks to the Medici, with their diplomatic skill and elevated culture.
Sandro Botticelli, in this way, gave the History of Art one of its most sublime masterpieces.