Commissioned in the year 1486 to paint the vocation by the Medici family of Florence, Sandro Botticelli worked on his masterpiece “The Birth of Venus”, specifically for the family of Lorenzo de' Medici, who was a close comrade of Botticelli. The painting is a portrait of the goddess Venus, as seen to be emerging from under the sea waters as a beautiful woman, and her arrival at the seashore. The depiction is in relation to the Venus Anadyomene ornamentation. Currently “The Birth of Venus” painting in held on display at Florence’s Uffizi Gallery, Italy.
Created in the Renaissance period, when the majority of the art was dedicated to the Christian theme, the painting notably stands out, because it presents a naked woman. In his painting, Botticelli reveals the goddess Venus in the form of a strikingly beautiful and innocent woman. She serves as a symbol of the spring that was approaching. Depiction of naked women was not common in the Renaissance, and the act was viewed as pagan or as a symbol of sinful lust. In the Renaissance period, the majority of paintings of women represented the Virgin Mary, portraying her in a modest manifestation with an innocent smile and covered head. Therefore, the painting “The Birth of Venus” is important in showing the non-biblical part of the Renaissance period of Italian art. Venus is a goddess of love, and she is presented the beginning of a new season of spring, which opened the door for new life of harvest. Most importantly, the painting shows that Botticelli was choosing his themes for painting based on his source of inspiration rather than shared beliefs.
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In addition, Botticelli as a Renaissance art master helps people understand the importance of the painting during that period. Botticelli had a variety of inspiration sources for his works. Probably one of the inspirations for painting the Venus was created by his age mates who were revisiting and rediscovering Greek beauty ideals and Ancient Greek art. However, Botticelli’s Venus contains many aspects of Renaissance classical ideals that involved motion and perfection. The orange tree on the background the flower petals that have been sprinkled throughout the atmosphere, Zephyrs blowing away ringlets of hair, gentle tossing of waves, and the clothes and cloaks of the woman seem to be slightly lifted by the breeze giving the impression of euphoria. Furthermore, the pose of the Venus is evocative of the Venus de Medici, which was a gem inscription and marble sculpture from Classical relic in the collection of the Medici that Botticelli had a chance of viewing earlier (Dunant 23)
The painting “The Birth of Venus” was clearly unlike the artworks which were commissioned during the Renaissance times as Christianity dictated what sort of compositions were to be made. In fact, painters who would disobey risked losing their own lives. Thus, the painting was designed to be placed and hung above the matrimonial bed. More so, the painting was a bold celebration of human desire. Being so controversial for its time, “The Birth of Venus” was kept away from sight of people behind the closed doors for almost half a century. The church would not allow for such exposure of the human body, especially a female body, be placed on public view. Moreover, since the church was in charge of commissioning majority of the artworks made during the Renaissance period, there was no way religious leaders would accept a painting that showed lust and sinful ways of pagans into the confines of the church. However, the painting is an important source of the Renaissance history, as far as many of the artworks that were done during that time were forever lost in Bonfires of the Vanities.
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