Sandro Botticelli: The birth of Venus (1483-1485)

(Uffizi Gallery, Florence, Italy)

A very famous painting by the Italian master Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510). The subject is a so-called 'Venus Anadyomene (Greek for "Venus Rising From the Sea"). According to the myths the titan Cronus castrated his father, the Primordial God of the Sky Uranus, and threw his testicles into the sea. When the testicles touched the sea they produced a white foam from which the goddess Venus (or Aphrodite in Greek mythology) emerged. Botticelli shows the moment when, having emerged from the sea in a shell, Venus lands at Paphos in Cyprus. Venus is standing naked on a giant scallop shell (symbol of female genitalia). Zephyr, the god of the West wind, is blowing her to the shore where one of the Horae, goddesses of the seasons, is waiting with a cape, which is decorated with spring flowers, to dress the newborn goddess. The other figure with Zephyr on the left is unknown - could be an Aura, goddess of the breeze, or Chloris, a Nymph who was associated with spring, flowers and new growth. Venus is showered with roses, a flower which blossomed for the first time when Venus was born. On the meadow on the right are violets, symbol of modesty but also used in love potions. The painting 'La Primavera' of Botticelli (see link below) supposedly is the companion piece of this painting: the birth of Venus shows Venus's arrival in a world on the verge of blooming, La Primavera shows the world in bloom around the now-clothed Venus. Together the set shows that "love triumphs over brutality". Painting from 1483-1485.

Sandro Botticelli: La Primavera (1482)