Botticelli's Venus, the goddess of love, is one of the first non-biblical female nudes in Italian art and is depicted in accordance with the classical Venus pudica. However, she is as far as a precise copy of her prototype as the painting is an exact illustration of Poliziano's poetry. The group comprising Venus and the Hora of spring demonstrates Botticelli's flexible use of Christian means of depiction.
In the era that Birth of Venus was painted, minds were open to new ideas and religion no longer needed to be the main subject of artistic work. If such mythological pieces had been painted 100 years earlier, they would not have been accepted by the church because they were so different to traditional depictions.
Botticelli's Venus was the first large-scale canvas created in Renaissance Florence. He prepared his own tempera pigments with very little fat and covered them with a layer of pure egg white in a process unusual for his time. His painting resembles a fresco in its freshness and brightness. It is preserved exceptionally well and the painting today remains firm and elastic with very little cracks.
From the RENAISSANCE period
The Renaissance was a great cultural movement that began in Italy during the early 1300’s. It spread to England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and other countries in the late 1400’s and ended in 1600. It is one of the most beautiful, if not misleading, names in history. It is beautiful because it implies an awakening of intellectual awareness. It is misleading because it suggests a sudden rebirth of learning and art after the presumed stagnation of the Middle Ages.
LOCATION: Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.
Botticelli, The Birth of Venus, 1483-85, tempera on panel, 68 x 109 5/8" (172.5 x 278.5 cm), Uffizi, Florence
Speakers: Dr. Beth Harris & Dr. Steven Zucker
Famous Painting Series
# 8 - Rembrandt's Night Watch