The Birth of Venus, c.1485 | Botticelli | Painting Reproduction
Botticelli | The Birth of Venus, c.1485 | Giclée Canvas Print

The Birth of Venus, c.1485 - Giclée Canvas Print
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510)

Location: Galleria degli Uffizi Florence Italy
Original Size: 180 x 280 cm
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Printed Size: $79.32

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Painting Information

The Birth of Venus is a painting by Sandro Botticelli. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a full grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore (Venus Anadyomene motif). The painting is currently in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

This large picture by Botticelli may have been, like the Primavera, painted for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici's Villa di Castello, around 1483, or even before. Some scholars suggest that the Venus painted for Lorenzo and mentioned by Giorgio Vasari may have been a different work, now lost. Some experts believe it to be a celebration of the love of Giuliano di Piero de' Medici (who died in the Pazzi conspiracy in 1478) for Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, who lived in Portovenere, a town by the sea with a local tradition of being the birthplace of Venus. It must be noted that Botticelli himself also privately loved the beautiful Simonetta, who was de' Medici's mistress. Whatever inspired the artist, there are clear similarities to Ovid's Metamorphoses and Fasti, as well as to Poliziano's Verses. Simonetta is also believed to have been the model for Venus in this painting, as well as for several other women in other Botticelli works, such as Primavera.

The classical goddess Venus emerges from the water on a shell, blown towards shore by the Zephyrs, symbols of spiritual passions. She is joined by one of the Horae, goddesses of the seasons, who hands her a flowered cloak.

The effect, nonetheless, is distinctly pagan, considering it was made at a time and place when most artworks depicted Roman Catholic themes. It is somewhat surprising that this canvas escaped the flames of Savonarola's bonfires, where a number of Botticelli's other alleged pagan influenced works perished. Botticelli was very close to Lorenzo de Medici. Because of their friendship and Lorenzo's power, this work was spared from Savonarola's fires and the disapproval of the church.

The anatomy of Venus and various subsidiary details do not display the strict classical realism of Leonardo da Vinci or Raphael. Most obviously, Venus has an improbably long neck, and her left shoulder slopes at an anatomically unlikely angle. Such details only enhance the great beauty of the painting, and some have suggested it prefigures mannerism.

Classical inspiration
The painting was one of a series which Botticelli produced, taking as inspiration written descriptions by the 2nd century historian Lucian of masterpieces of Ancient Greece which had long since disappeared. The ancient painting by Apelles was called Venus Anadyomene, "Anadyomene" meaning "rising from the sea"; this title was also used for Botticelli's painting, The Birth of Venus only becoming its better known title in the 19th century. 'The Birth of Venus' is very similar to Praxiteles' Aphrodite, a statue.

A mural from Pompeii was never seen by Botticelli, but may have been a Roman copy of the then famous painting by Apelles which Lucian mentioned.

In classical antiquity, the sea shell was a metaphor for a woman's vulva.

The pose of Botticelli's Venus is reminiscent of the Venus de Medici, a marble sculpture from classical antiquity in the Medici collection which Botticelli had opportunity to study.

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Original Size: 203 x 314 cm
Location: Galleria degli Uffizi Florence Italy


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Original Size: 69.2 x 173.4 cm
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