The Birth of Venus.

  The Birth of Venus is probably Botticelli's most famous painting. The picture hung in the country villa of the Medici along with "Primavera", indicating that the work was commissioned by the Medici family. Venus rises from the sea, looking like a classical statue and floating on a seashell, in what is surely one of the most recognisable images in art history.

 On Venus' right is Zephyrus, God of Winds, he carries with him the gentle breeze Aura and together they blow the Goddess of Love ashore. The Horae, Goddess of the Seasons, waits to receive Venus and spreads out a flower covered robe in readiness for the Love Goddess' arrival.

"Birth of Venus" 1485. Uffizi, Florence. (w)
tempera on canvas, 172.5 cm × 278.5 cm (67.9 in × 109.6 in)

Botticelli has taken some inspiration from a hymn by the classical poet Homer, however it is an unusual subject for the time, as most Renaissance artists used themes from the teachings of the Catholic church for their paintings. The mythological works by Botticelli, The Venus, "Primavera", and "Pallas and the Centaur", typify his pagan phase.

 The model for Venus is thought to be Simonetta Cattaneo de Vespucci, a great beauty and favourite of the Medici court.

(left) Simonetta Vespucci by Sandro Botticelli. (w)

Botticelli also used Simonetta as the model for several other women in his paintings supporting the view that he was actually in love with her. In fact Simonetta died at the young age of twenty-two and Botticelli expressed a wish to be buried at her feet. It is thought that Simonetta was born at Portovenere in Liguria, romantically this is the birthplace of the goddess Venus.

Venus, Goddess of Love. (detail) (s)


Zephyrus, God of Winds, and the gentle breeze Aura. (detail) (s)

Personal Opinion:-

What a fantastic image by Botticelli, you have to admire his simple, but very effective line drawing. This will always be... Venus.

Again a beautifully executed double image of the gods.
Is "Aura" yet another portrait of Simonetta Vespucci, the second within the same painting?
It probably is, in any case this detail is filled with a harmonious tenderness and perhaps highlights the depth of feeling that Botticelli had for Simonetta.

Does he imagine himself as the God of Winds, embracing the love of his life in his arms?
What a romantic notion!