Thoughts on The Birth of Venus by Sandro Bottecelli

The birth of venus

The birth of venus

After my Thoughts on Michelangelo’s David, I figured I’d weigh in on The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botecelli, which I saw for the first time at the Uffizi Gallery today. I think it’s awesome.

The books and tour guides will tell you that this painting is significant in that it represents an exploration of classical Roman motifs that are the hallmark of the Renaissance Humanist thinking. To be blunt with it, the novel thought they had boiled down to, you can see God through things of beauty, not just through graphical depictions of Biblical stories.

To put it another way your choices for feminine beauty at the time were the Madonna or The Virgin Mary. I know, I know!

So it is with great relief that the painters of the time could explore other visions of beauty, including mythological stories about the Birth Of Venus.

Oh, they rationalized it by saying they found God through the perfect beauty of Venus, but the reality is they were looking for a fresh face and found it in Venus

And it’s true, up to that point in the Uffizzi it’s one painted altar of Madonna with Child after another. And then blammo!, you have something like the Birth Of Venus

And I get it, I do. But that’s only partly why I like this painting so much is that it reminds me of Fan Art. Bottecelli and others  could have painted paintings of Venus just as soberly and seriously as they did of the Madonna, swapping one serious theme with another. But they didn’t.

Instead, they injected a sense of happiness, lightheartedness, dare I say it, whimsy, into the discourse of painting that had not been previously known.

Honestly, you can’t look at the cheeks of the gods of wind, or the flowers floating in the breeze or that endless flowing red hair without smiling at least a little bit. And that sly look on Venus’s face, you just know she’s about to break out into a big guffaw over it all. And let’s get real, she totally could have covered that left breast, if she wanted too. 

No wonder she’s become such a pop icon hundreds of years later.