Sandro Botticelli
Venus and Mars

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Sandro Botticelli, Venus and Mars



70.6 X 176.8 cm

London, The National Gallery

Venus and Mars

Botticelli’s Venus and Mars is a portrayal of Venus, goddess of love, and Mars, god of war, and four little satyrs. Uncharacteristically for that time period in art, the female is clothed and the male is nearly naked. Botticelli showed Venus with complex hair braids that were clasped together in the front bodice. This suggested that Venus might join Mars in her naked state by simply undoing her hair and her gown would fall off also.

The satyres play a very humorous role in this painting. They are each playing with a piece of war equipment. One has put on a helmet that is too large, another is trying to lift a sword, the third is ready to blow in the conch shell and the last is climbing through Mars’ suit of armor holding onto the end of a sword.

Mars and Venus have often been referred to together in previous writings. Mars is the one to represent violence and wrath, while Venus, the goddess of love, comes into the scene to help calm down the negative and vile traits of Mars. Mars can’t help but have calmer feelings and is resting peacefully in the presence of Venus.

The stayre that is blowing the conch shell in his ear will soon wake Mars and see to it that Venus and Mars end up in physical activities common between a man and woman.

This painting was likely done as a marriage commission for Lorenzo Medici’s oldest daughter and the less powerful Salviati family. This may be why Venus, representing the more powerful family, is the one clothed.




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