Birth Of Venus By Boticelli Term Paper

Length: 10 pages Sources: 5 Subject: Art  (general) Type: Term Paper Paper: #87697021 Related Topics: Birth Order, Uranus, Pico, Italian Renaissance
Excerpt from Term Paper :

In his attempt to paint the goddess, the Renaissance painter inspired from the mythological legend of Venus's birth. The Roman Goddess of love apparently emerged out of the sea as a result of a foam formed around Uranus's genitals that had just been cut by his son, Cronus. Cronus apparently did so in order to get revenge, since his father treated him very cruelly (Deimling 52).

Botticelli focused on emphasizing the painting's contours with a black stripe, making them contrast the rest of the picture. This concomitantly makes the painting clearer and gives it a detached character. The flowers falling from the sky were also taken from the legend, since flowers and spring are associated to Venus's birth (Deimling 52).

Whereas the painting's title refers to the actual birth of the goddess, the painting itself seems to represent something else. Instead of showing Venus as she comes into this world, the painting only shows her as he reaches the shores of Cythera Island. Botticelli had apparently inspired from Homeric writings in his attempt to reproduce Venus's interaction with human-inhabited lands. Zephyrus and Aura are obviously going through great efforts to push Venus's shell nearer to the shore. Considering that the Horae's robe is decorated with spring flowers, it is only natural to suppose that she is a goddess of spring (Deimling 52).

It is most certainly a privilege for the Horae to dress Venus, as the former is preparing the latter to embark on a journey during which she will assume the mission of being "the mother and patron saint of all the forces of creation" (Analysis: The Birth of Venus). In her endeavor to cover Venus, the Horae virtually has the task of contributing to the goddess' modest character and respecting her.

With Zephyrus and Aura pushing her toward the island, viewers can deduce that she is unwilling to reach the shore, this feeling being toughened because of her look and because she seems to be uncomfortable with her nakedness. Surely, the reason for which she attempts to cover herself might also be that Botticelli did not want his painting to impact his society too much because of its vulgarity. The waves in the sea are threatening and will not allow Venus to return from her place origin, making it obvious that her only chance is to climb ashore. It is actually surprising that Botticelli chose to paint the goddess of pleasure in such a state. Venus, who is generally depicted as a glorious and arrogant goddess is shown as a modest individual, merely interested in completing her mission (Singleton 26).

One would typically expect Venus to be cheerful to have the honor of promoting love. Her unwillingness to smile might also be a result of the fact that she is aware of the great responsibility she has and of the fact that love is over and over again one of the most dangerous sentiments in the history of humanity (Singleton 26).

Botticelli's success was limited because of the artists that followed after him and even if his greatness is recognized in the present, it is still impossible for him to be compared to painters like Michelangelo or Rafael. All things considered, Sandro Botticelli's paintings were unique in character, this meaning that they cannot be compared with others, regardless of the apparent similarity of styles between one and the other. Artists like Botticelli are memorable because they were the first to trigger the Renaissance movement, while later paintings from the period were advantaged because their path was already laid (Singleton 27).

It is virtually impossible for all people to agree to a general interpretation of the Birth of Venus, as its meaning was either lost in time or was not supposed to be known from the very moment when Botticelli completed it. According to history, Lorenzo de' Medici was actually responsible for devising the painting's theme, as it was "set to verse by his favorite humanist, Ange Poliziano, interpreted by the tiny genius, Pico della Mirandola, approved by the patriarch, Marsilio Ficino, and the notebook was wrapped up for delivery to Botticelli. It went from Lorenzo the Magnificent to all of Florence's humanism of this second half of the 15th century to finally be given to Botticelli, who thus scrupulously followed...


The two paintings were initially hung opposite to each-other, in Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco's bedroom.

Marsilio Ficino's philosophical convictions are apparently the reason for the correlation between the two paintings, as he wanted Botticelli to create two representations of Venus, one that would be connected to the divinity (the Birth of Venus), and one that would be connected by earthly values (Primavera). If one were to put the two paintings next to each-other (the Birth of Venus first and Primavera last), the respective person would discover that they produce a single landscape and an apparently premeditated sequence emerges. "The assemblage of both paintings in a sequence is primarily justified by the group of persons that seems to be repeating on both paintings. A closer look at the total twelve figures (without Cupid who is a signifier on a different 'level') surprisingly reveals that there are three groups of the same four figures 'metamorphosing' along the timeline" (Bowman).

In each of these groups there is a male individual accompanied by three women. Venus is typically considered to be a symbol for soul, and given the succession of individuals in the two paintings, one can interpret Botticelli's works as having the purpose of displaying life from the moment of inception and until the moment of death (Bowman).

The nymph brought by Zephyr in the Birth of Venus is most probably meant to represent the soul as it is prepared to come to earth. Venus's presence in the shell is a reference to how people are incarnated, whereas the Horae is meant to represent materialness through the garment she is holding (Bowman).

The second group shows Mercury as he looks away from the numphs, expecting the soul to travel from spiritual life to material life, as the god is an intermediary between gods and humans. The three graces standing between Mercury and Venus in La Primavera represent human life at its apogee, having the purpose of showing the greatness of living and some of the most precious things nature has to offer. They might refer to music, art, verse, wisdom, and righteousness (Bowman).

The third group shows Venus as she is about to conceive and next to her Flora, her twin goddess, apparently having the purpose of symbolizing progress. The half-naked nymph represents the soul as Zephyr takes it away, from where it initially came. Ficino's perception of immortality is highlighted through the fact that Zephyr is responsible both for bringing the soul onto earth and for taking it away as life ends, with the purpose of another chapter to begin and for the god to reassume his position (Bowman).

The two paintings are virtually the materialization of one of Marsilio Ficino's most notable philosophic work, Theologia Platonica de immortalitate animae, which he devised by inspiring from Neoplatonic thought-given the succession of birth, life, and death. However, in spite of the fact that most artists contemporary to Botticelli were inclined to cling on to traditionalism in doing artwork, the Birth of Venus and the Primavera are obviously detached from how most individuals were accustomed to depicting such scenes (Bowman).

One must employ intellectual thinking in understanding what Botticelli wanted to express through these two paintings. It is no longer a secret that these paintings are connected, as they were not simply performed one after another because of the beauty that their commissioner saw in the first. Italy's most influential families were accustomed to bringing together artists and philosophers with the purpose of bringing the two spheres of influence together in producing Renaissance artwork. Artists were inspired by philosophers and came up with their own perspective regarding particular themes. Even though the two paintings are presently found in the same building, curators are reluctant to put them together. This is either because they are afraid that they will attract less attention in this format or because they are actually afraid for the attention and the mixed feelings they will generate.

The Birth of Venus, together with the Primavera, are some of the best examples proving that people can be easily influenced by appearances in forming an idea with regard to a particular topic. Artists and art analysts from until the early twentieth century were actually inclined to believe that that there is no connection whatsoever between the two paintings simply because one of them was smaller than the other. This is extremely important in demonstrating that should always be provided with special attention, since one…

Sources Used in Documents:


Argan, Giulio Carlo, Botticelli: Biographical and Critical Study, trans. James Emmons (New York: Skira, 1957).

Bowman, David. "Birth of Venus and La Primavera Conjoined." Retrieved November 18, 2010, from the Aiwaz Website:

Deimling, Barbara. Sandro Botticelli, 1444/45-1510, (Taschen, 2000).

Singleton, Esther, Great Pictures as Seen and Described by Famous Writers, (BiblioBazaar, LLC, 2008).
"Analysis: The Birth of Venus." Retrieved November 18, 2010, from the Berger Foundation Website:

Cite this Document:

"Birth Of Venus By Boticelli" (2010, November 17) Retrieved February 5, 2023, from

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