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Famous Artwork: The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus is one of the earliest paintings made on canvas.

Venus was a goddess in Greek mythology believed to have risen from the water after birth as a fully grown woman. Sandro Botticelli’s painting is a depiction of this goddess, as a full-sized naked woman rising from the sea. Venus, with her long golden hair covering her genitalia and with one hand covering one breast, is shown stepping on a shell by the shore. While Venus, the goddess is the primary subject of the painting, Zephyr, a god carrying a young female, blows at her, with another female subject holding out a cloak for the goddess. The painting is a late 15th-century creation (early renaissance) and is one of the most famous and most recognized paintings worldwide. Medici is thought to have commissioned the painting as well as being the original inspiration to representing the ancient goddess. The Birth of Venus is one of the earliest paintings made on canvas as opposed to the previous mediums, mainly wood. The painting is closely related with the Primavera.

Location and Worth

The Birth of Venus is displayed in the Uffizi Museum in Italy. The painting is thought to have originally hung in the villa of the Medici family alongside the Primavera. The painting stayed in the villa up to the early 19th century before it was moved to the Uffizi Museum. For a short period in the 20th century, the paintings were displayed at the Galleria dell’Accademia in Florence. Like most of the famous paintings of earlier periods, The Birth of Venus is a priceless piece and is not for sale. Numerous copies and reinterpretations of the painting have been developed over the years and may be found in different museums.

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli, a famous early renaissance Italian painter, was born around 1445 in Florence. He apprenticed to Filippo Lippi in Florence where he learned various styles including drawing and panel painting as well as knowledge in the Florentine style. Lippi became a significant influence in the artistic style of Botticelli. Botticelli mainly focused his works on ancient history, religious, and mythical creations which probably explains his great success at depicting the goddess Venus. Most of his works are tempera on wood and canvas. Some of his notable works include The Birth of Venus, Primavera, The Adoration of the Magi, The Annunciation, and the Mystic Crucifixion. Botticelli produced fewer works after 1495 and probably none after 1501. He died in 1510 and was buried outside Ognissanti Church.

Legacy

The Birth of Venus is believed to be a depiction of divine love interpreted as a model of arousing both physical and intellectual love in humans through her earthly and heavenly feature. Having been central to the understanding of love in the Neo-platonic period, the painting is one of the most famous pieces of art and serves as a symbol of Florence. The Birth of Venus has inspired many other artistic works dating mostly from the 19th century onwards. Such works include the Venus Dress designed by Dolce and Gabbana in 1993, Yin Xin’s version of Venus, which covers the head (with black hair) and shoulders of Botticelli’s Venus and the Rebirth of Venus by David LaChapelle (2009).

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