Botticelli and ‘The Birth of Venus’

The Birth of Venus’ Sandro Botticelli ( around 1484)

This ideolised painting by Sandros Botticelli depicts the Goddess Venus a she arrives to the shore from the ocean, born from a seashell.
She is helped to land by the breath of lovers God and Goddess, Zephyrus and Aura, who’s nakedness is covered by a simple wave of blue. It is clear that Botticelli wants you to see them as lovers because of their naked embrace. However, during my research of the Gods, it is unknown whether the two even met let alone were lovers.
The nudity in the paintings is anything but offensive. I feel that its subtlety is what makes it even more appealing.Its suggestiveness is enough for the viewer.
Venus is all womanly and feminine, her whole Botticelli’s vision of beauty. The way he presents Venus, despite her nakedness, gives her a look of innocence, like that of anyone or anything newborn. Her snow white skin and how she covers herself gives an image of purity and respect.

Botticelli wants you to see Venus and for her to be the main focus in the painting. I am more intrigued by the couple to the left of the painting.
Zephyrus is the Greek God of the West Wind. So can see why Botticelli used him in his creation. He is always portrayed as being a very handsome, muscular winged young man. The equally beautiful Aura is his companion. She is the Titan Goddess of the breeze and the fresh cool air. Botticelli presents them both so elegantly I actually am more intrigued by them then by anything else. Even with Zephyrus’ long hair, his body is distinctly that of a man, an immortal God. And Aura is the picture of perfect feminine beauty which Botticelli was an expert at Portraying.


Venus is the Goddess of love, beauty and all things pure. She is a serene vision in white in this piece who is staring longingly at the mighty God, Mars.
Mars is the Roman God of War. A complete contrast to Venus. We see the two Gods in a peacefully scene surrounded by cheeky cherubs unable to wake Mars from his deep slumber. Venus has captivated Mars so much with her love and overpowering beauty he is without his armor or his weapons, his powers are broken. He is naked an unarmed in a tranquil sleep as Venus looks on.
Botticelli vision of Mars is of a heavenly, muscular male with only a small covering to keep him from being completely naked. I feel as though Botticelli has given the Gods quite human-like qualities in this painting. A sense of normality is depicted. So much so if it wasn’t for the cherubs in the back, it could quite easily just be a romantic meeting between two lovers instead of two Gods.
The narrative in the painting is not meant in a sexual way. Mars is naked simply because he has been rendered powerless by the Goddess. It is a metaphor for the loss of his Godly powers. Venus would have also been naked if it was meant in another way. I think Botticelli wanted to present that belief that love is greater than anything in the world and can even conquer the likes of Mars, the God of war.


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