Sandro Botticelli
Birth of Venus

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Sandro Botticelli, Arrival of Venus (Birth of Venus)

Date:

1490

184.5 X 285.5 cm

Florence, Galleria degli Uffizi

Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus is another of Botticelli’s famous works. It shows that mythological figure Venus, the goddess of love, arriving on the island of Cyprus. This is a very large painting where Venus is almost life size. The oranges in the background refer again to the fact that this painting was commissioned by the Medici family, one of Botticelli’s greatest supporters.

On the left of the picture, is the wind god Zephyr and his wife Chloris, known as Flora, goddess of flowers and blooms. Botticelli expertly showed Zephyr and Chloris each blowing to help Venus reach the shore.

On the right is Hora the goddess of summer welcoming Venus. In the background are orange groves running along the coastline. These trees are budding, not yet blooming, showing that the land is ready to burst into bloom to celebrate the arrival of Venus.

Botticelli knew the history of the violent story of Venus’ birth. Saturn, following his mother’s direction, cut off the genitals and threw them into the sea. The sea foam produced Venus, the goddess of love. Love triumphed over brutality. When Venus arose out of the sea, a rosebush blossomed on land. Thus the rose became a symbol for Venus and can be seen blowing in the wind. Venus, herself, symbolizes virtue, beauty and chastity. She has a serene look on her face as she enters her new land.

The Primavera and the Birth of Venus paintings show two parts of Venus. Botticelli painted them to be companion paintings and hung in the same space. They both bring across the theme that love triumphs over brutality. In the Birth of Venus, Venus has just been born and arriving on earth. The trees have not yet produced fruit. The world is waiting her arrival. In Primavera, she is among large fruits and lush flowers. She has arrived at a mature state. She is presiding over the same world in each separate works.

 

 

 



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