Tuesday, April 03, 2018

April Masterpiece of the Month: The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli

Who Made It?
An Italian artist named, Sandro Botticelli, created this painting in 1488.

Where Is the REAL One?
The real painting can be seen at The Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Why Is It Important?
According to Greek and Roman mythology, the goddess Venus was born from the ocean as a fully grown woman. Venus was the goddess of love and was known to the Greeks as Aphrodite. In this painting, Botticelli is illustrating the famous myth, and has painted her standing upon a scallop shell which is a symbol of life and birth. The scallop shell has been used by artists in many artworks to help identify Venus, because she is also the goddess of life and birth. She is also being gently pushed to shore, over the ocean waves, by Zephyrus, the god of wind. He is being helped by his wife, Flora (also known as Chloris), the goddess of flowers and she is showering Venus with pink roses. According to the myth, roses were believed to first exist when Venus was born. Standing on the shore is a goddess of Spring, ready to dress Venus in a special robe that is decorated with flowers that are symbolic of birth. It is possible that Botticelli wanted Venus to also be a symbol of the coming spring.

The Birth of Venus has a classical subject, which means that it is about the people and stories of ancient Greece and Rome. Botticelli was a famous artist during the Italian Renaissance and artists were just beginning to use classical subjects as inspiration for their artworks. Most artwork during the Renaissance were about stories from the Bible, but in this painting, Botticelli was rediscovering the art of ancient Greece and their idea of human beauty.