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Art / The Birth of Venus (Botticelli)

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The Birth of Venus is a Tempera painting created by the Early Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli finished in 1486. It depicts the goddess Venus of Classical Mythology arriving at the shore after her birth, when she had emerged from the sea fully-grown (called Venus Anadyomene and often depicted in art). While not the only painting to take the name The Birth of Venus, Botticelli's painting is definitely the most recognizable.

The painting is currently on display in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

For Art Imitates Art references and parodies, see The Burlesque of Venus.

Not to be confused with the Venus de Milo, the William-Adolphe Bouguereau painting or the Alexandre Cabanel painting.

The Birth of Venus provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Modesty: The depiction of Venus was based on the Capitoline Venus, a type of statue of Venus where the naked goddess is desperately trying to cover her naked form, covering her breasts with her right hand, and her groin with her left hand.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Venus' neck is unnaturally long and bends at an improbable angle.
  • Blow You Away: Zephyrus, God of the West Wind, blowing the newborn Venus to land.
  • Born as an Adult: As was the case in mythology, Venus is born from the ocean post-puberty, in this case from the shell of a clam.
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  • Contrapposto Pose: A fairly low-key instance, but sometimes quoted as one of the classic Renaissance examples in the case of Venus' standing position.
  • Godiva Hair: Venus covers her crotch with her long hair.
  • Love Goddess: Venus, Roman Goddess of Love.
  • The Muse: Not the goddess kind, but the metaphorical kind. No one is certain who the model who posed as Venus was, but most take a guess that she was Simonetta Vespucci, wife of Marco Vespucci, a locally famous beauty and one of Botticelli's recurring models.
  • Rapunzel Hair: The goddess's long golden locks fall at least to her knees.
  • Ur-Example: Popularity breeds imitations, hence why The Burlesque of Venus is a trope.
  • Water Is Womanly: The painting famously depicts Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, emerging from the sea on a seashell.
  • Winged Humanoid: As depicted with Zephyrus and Chloris, the former being an Anthropomorphic Personification of the wind, and flying.
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  • The X of Y: The painting depicts Venus being Born as an Adult from the ocean, in this case from the shell of a clam.


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