Botticelli’s Birth of Venus

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“Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is one of the most treasured artworks of the Renaissance” (artble).

Commissioned by the Medici family, Botticelli worked on this piece from 1484 to 1486 in Florence (Wikipedia). Widely considered to be one of his best works, the Birth of Venus depicts the birth of the Roman god of love (known to the people of Greece as Aphrodite). According to italianrenaissance.org, “this is a work of tempera on canvas” during a period of time when wood panels were the most popular surfaces for painting. The medium is not the only unconventional aspect of this piece. The Birth of Venus “is one of the first non-biblical female nudes in Italian art” and goes against the humanistic focus on more natural posturing.

Venus’s pose is “reminiscent of the Venus de Medici, a marble sculpture and gem inscription from Classical antiquity in the Medici collection which Botticelli had opportunity to study” (artble). Botticelli draws the viewer’s eye to the supple curve of Venus’s leg by slightly offsetting her to the right of the center of the painting. On her left we see the figure of the wind god Zephyrus, carrying a nymph known as Aura, blowing Venus to shore among a shower of roses. On shore we see a nymph ready and waiting to receive the beautiful goddess of love with a cloak in hand.

The Birth of Venus is by far one of my favorite Renaissance pieces. The radiant beauty of Venus and the way that everyone involved seems to be floating really adds to the serene and ethereal vibe of the painting as a whole. The attention to even the most minute details, as demonstrated by the way that Venus’s hair billows in the wind and how the cloak is pressed up against the leg of the nymph waiting to receive her, really showcase Botticelli’s talent as an artist.

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