The Birth of Venus (French: La Naissance de Vénus) is one of the most famous paintings by 19th-century painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau. It depicts not the actual birth of Venus from the sea, but her transportation in a shell as a fully mature woman from the sea to Paphos in Cyprus. She is considered the epitome of the Classical Greek and Roman ideal of the female form and beauty, on par with Venus de Milo.
The painting was created for the Paris Salon of 1879. It was awarded the Grand Prix de Rome, and was purchased by the state for the Musée du Luxembourg. The painting is now in the permanent collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris.
The Birth of Venus provides examples of:
- The Burlesque of Venus: The subject matter, with Venus standing in a Contrapposto Pose, greatly resembles its more famous predecessor.
- Cherubic Choir: Fifteen putti, including Cupid and Psyche, have been counted in the foreground and the background of the painting.
- Contrapposto Pose: Venus takes a relaxed version of the pose.
- Our Centaurs Are Different: Three different centaurs surround Venus accompanying the nymphs, two of them playing conch-shells.
- Our Nymphs Are Different: Three nymphs are found accompanying the centaurs.
- Water Is Womanly: Like its famous predecessor, the painting depicts the goddess of love emerging from the sea alongside sea nymphs.