The painting is on canvas which probably indicates that it was not intended for public display. Almost certainly it was commissioned by a member of the powerful and wealthy Medici family. They were great patrons of the arts.
Botticelli did not pluck his plans for this painting from thin air. It reflects many things about art in the Early Renaissance period and harks back to classical mythology from both the Greek and Roman eras. Botticelli was well-informed.
Venus is the Roman equivalent of Ancient Greece's Aphrodite. She was born out of the sea fully formed and appears upon the shore on a gilded clam shell where three figures await her. To the right there's one of the goddesses of the seasons or "horae". This goddess is clearly connected with springtime and she is holding out a cloak with which Venus may hide her modesty. To the left there's the Greek god Zephyr who has blown Venus to the shore. He is possibly accompanied by Aura - a goddess associated with breezes.
Venus's body is somehow elongated and she stands unnaturally in a pose we might associate with classical representations of the female form in Greek sculpture.
The left of the painting is lighter than the right and the sea stretches out far behind Venus giving the composition a strange depth.
Much has been written about "The Birth of Venus" and what I have said here is but the tip of an iceberg of investigation, speculation and appreciation. This priceless work of art is housed in The Uffizi Gallery in Florence where I stood before it in slack-jawed awe in February 2007.
This is one of the paintings represented in an art book that was in my house when I was growing up that I could not get enough of. I knew nothing then of the myths or who the figures represented. I had no idea of proportion or the effect of light and darkness. I was simply mesmerized by it. I still am.ReplyDelete
I will say that studying the closer detail insert that you have posted here, I am a little disturbed by the shoulders and arms. The left arm looks out of proportion in length to the right and the shoulders out of proportion to the heft of the upper arms.
But all-in-all, it still captures me.
I have no issue with the disproportions and imagine it was deliberate. I am delighted to learn that this image was part of your growing up.Delete
A very nice work but I'd be rather surprised to open a clam shell and Venus popped out.ReplyDelete
Use a "P" instead of a "V" Andrew.Delete
I never noticed how extra long Aphrodite's neck is until you posted the close up. And what Ms. Moon said about the arms and shoulders is true but still a beautiful painting. Certainly better than anything I could do:)ReplyDelete
The strange disproportions were almost certainly deliberate. She is not a woman. She is a goddess.Delete
It's beautiful. And it's something "real" that can be identified with. So much nicer than what passes for "art" these days when anyone can load a brush with colour, shake it at the canvas and sell it for exorbitant amounts of cash. Blue Poles anyone?ReplyDelete
Jackson Pollock was a pollock!Delete
I also saw it in the Uffizi in Forence in 2007! But I was there in November.ReplyDelete
Did you see my initials scratched on the wall right next to "The Birth of Venus"?Delete
Like you, I once stood before the original painting in the uffizi, but in my case, it was the year 1985, when I was 17 years old and loved all things Renaissance.ReplyDelete
The painting seems timeless. I am so pleased that you have seen it too.Delete
This is a painting to stand and admire from a distance, but Ms. Moon is right about the proportions. I also feel that the face doesn't sit naturally on the neck - perhaps Botticelli used a series of models, copying the parts he considered the most perfect.ReplyDelete
I believe the elongation and unnatural proportions were deliberate ploys by Botticelli. She was, after all, a goddess!Delete
Good to have a bit of "culcha" on a Sunday morning.ReplyDelete
Are you a culcha vulcha?Delete
I saw it in October 2019. The guide had lots to say about it but I cannot remember what she said at all. My trip to Italy then is a blur of fabulous beauty now!ReplyDelete
I'm glad I didn't have a guide bending my ear when I stood in front of the painting - pretty much by myself. Just me and Venus.Delete
Well many of us seem to have been in the Uffizi. In my case in 1992 (I think) . Having said that the Venus is not really of the genre of art that I really enjoy.ReplyDelete
I also saw it in the Uffizi. My visit was in 1985 but unlike Librarian (above), I was 45 then. It's a wonderful painting.ReplyDelete