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The Burlesque of Venus

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Hey! Put some clothes on!note 

"Aphrodite is beloved in pop culture more as a symbol or as an idea more than a character that does things. Two of the most famous pieces of art in European history are of the goddess Venus: Venus de Milo, thought to be the work of Alexandros of Antioch, and Botticelli's The Birth of Venus which gets homaged in everything from Lady Gaga videos to The Muppets to Andy Warhol..."
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Sandro Botticelli's 1486 Tempera painting The Birth of Venus has become a Florentine Renaissance icon that has withstood the test of time and is arguably his most famous piece.

While not The Mona Lisa, the Roman Goddess of Love can be considered a top-tier contender for the title of "Mona Lisa of Florence", Venus on her shell is nearly as iconic as Mona and her smile (Small Reference Pools at work again). Because of this, imitations abound, and not just in the fine art world. People in Film, Comic Books, anime, manga, Video Games and Western Animation like to take the imagery of The Birth of Venus and create a parody - or rather "a burlesque" - of the famous painting. Characteristics involved include:

  • A stunningly beautiful naked womannote .
  • Two people to the left, often either flying or levitating.
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  • One person to the right, often bringing her clothes.
  • A giant scallop shellnote  for her to stand on.

The reasons for this vary, ranging from being actual depictions of Venus (or her Greek counterpart Aphrodite), to illustrate the inherent beauty of a specific character, or maybe the creators wanted the viewer to think they were smart and cultured and picked something everyone would recognize.

See also Art Subjects and other cases of Art Imitates Art like Pietà Plagiarism and Sistine Steal.


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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • Bokura Wa Minna Kawaisou: In the second episode, Usa and Ritsu are sent to take down drapes and chance upon Shirosaki posed like this painting due to the wind, with cloth standing in for the clam and covering his chest and crotch and Mayumi clutching another large cloth next to him.
  • In Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto, the girls despair over not being able to catch a photo of Sakamoto when they went to the beach. They look through the photos, only to find one with Megumi holding a sea-shell — and Sakamoto in the back, posing like the Birth of Venus, seaweed standing in for hair and feet perfectly positioned to look like he's standing on the shell.
  • A promotional poster for Fate/Zero features Waver posing like Venus... and clearly embarrassed about it.

    Art 
  • Renaissance of Heather by Jonathan Thorpe is a photograph of Heather Byrd - then suffering from her third relapse of leukemia - being dressed by medical personnel in a deliberate homage to The Birth of Venus.
  • Andy Warhol made a portfolio of four, multicolored screenprints of Venus' head straight from the original Renaissance painting called, you guessed it, Birth of Venus.
  • Camouflage Botticelli (Birth of Venus) by Alain Jacquet is made as a collage of modern images (the Shell-station icon, road signs etc.) assembled into the form of Venus.
  • In the Muppets reprint book Miss Piggy's Treasury of Art Masterpieces from the Kermitage Collection, there is a recreation of The Birth of Venus called The Birth of You Know Who, with Miss Piggy playing the role of Venus, Kermit as Hora of Spring and Statler and Waldorf as Zephyr and his companion.
  • Birth of Venus Parody. by jakethebake15 portrays the original painting in a more modern context, with a slacker male playing Venus.
  • The Birth of Squidward by Ukrainian artist Elena Emelyanova portraying Squidward Tentacles as Venus.

    Comic Books 

     Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Venus is introduced in The Adventures of Baron Munchausen emerging from a giant clam pulled out from the pond in her home in Vulcan's volcano, where she is quickly dressed by her ladies-in-waiting.
  • In The Muppets' Wizard of Oz, the Wicked Witch of the West (played by Miss Piggy) keeps her own version of Botticelli's painting hanging in her lair, with herself posing as Venus and one of her flying monkeys in place of Zephyr and his assistant.
  • In Overdrawn at the Memory Bank, technician Appolonia once descends from heaven as Venus (complete with clam shell) to Fingal inside the simulation and intones the advice, "Thou shalt not screw around with things thou dost not understand." This is given no explanation whatever in the film. (In the original short story, it was because she could only control the simulation by causing strange phenomena.)

     Literature 
  • Venus On A Half Shell by Philip Jose Farmer pays homage to the painting with the title and cover art, which features a scantily clad woman posed like Venus standing on an oyster. When Simon first meets Chworktap, he compares her to Venus in the painting.

    Live-Action TV 

    Magazine 
  • The May 25, 1992 and August 4, 2014 covers to The New Yorker features spoofs of The Birth of Venus.
  • Elle MacPherson appeared this way, with Godiva Hair, on the cover of a May 2000 issue of Who Magazine, though it wasn't meant as a parody.

    Music 
  • Lady Gaga briefly spoofs the eponymous Renaissance painting during her music video "Applause", where she plays Venus, wearing a bra, thong and earrings made of seashells and a pair of animated hands surrounding her.
  • In the music video of Bananarama's cover of "Venus", alongside the sequences of a she-devil, a French woman, a vampire, and several goddesses, comes an homage of Botticelli's Venus surrounded by dancers.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Paranoia adventure Send in the Clones. The cover is a picture of Teela-O-MLY wearing a swimsuit and standing on a shell. Two of her clones (both wearing standard Troubleshooter uniforms) are coming in from each side, one being carried by a winged jackobot and the other carrying a spare uniform and throwing a towel to cover Teela #1.

    Video Games 
  • One of the various paintings Dimitri in his introductory cutscene in Sly 2: Band of Thieves forges is an in-universe equivalent of The Birth of Venus.
  • When Aphrodite appears in God of War III, she is spread out upon her bed, being "serviced" by her hand-maidens, her bed designed to look superficially like a giant clam.
  • In Persona 4: Golden, Kanji posed as Venus with seaweed provided by Yosuke when he lost his swimsuit in the beach. The girls were not amused.
  • In The Sims 3, a Birth of Venus pastiche is one of the possible artworks a high level painter randomly draws when instructed to created a large size painting. The female character wears a seashell bikini.
  • In the Glider PRO CD house "Art Museum," Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" is one of the featured paintings. Here the half-shell conceals hidden toasters.
  • In Paper Mario: Color Splash, Wendy O. Koopa reveals herself by coming out of a clam shell and posing in a similar manner to Venus.
  • In the Makenro's (the tennis player) stage of Makeruna Makendo 2 (the fighting game sequel to Kendo Rage), there's a painting of Makenro mimicking Botticelli's "Birth of Venus" in the background (starts at 16:16).

    Western Animation 
  • In the Steven Universe/Uncle Grandpa Crossover episode "Say Uncle", Uncle Grandpa appears dressed like Rose Quartz in a giant, pink clam, surrounded by seagulls and dolphins added for fan-fare.
  • In the Hercules episode "Hercules and the Dream Date", Aphrodite (Venus's Greek incarnation) appears to a bramble of flowers miraculously appearing, a beaming light, her rather cheesy introduction song topped off with, wait for it, stepping out of a giant clam that floated in.
  • In the The Simpsons episode "The Last Temptation of Homer", Homer briefly fantasizes Mindy Simmons as this, clamshell and all, with Carl and Lenny as a pair of cherub accompanying her.
    Cherub Lenny: Homer, what's the matter?
    Cherub Carl: Ain't you never seen a naked chick riding a clam before?
  • In the Futurama episode "A Bicyclops Built for Two", Alcazar gives Leela a tour of Cyclops City. One of the works of art he shows her is a mosaic depicting their Goddess of Beauty, depicted exactly like Venus in the famous Botticelli painting (except that she has purple hair and is a cyclops). It then revealed that there are five other identical cities on Cyclopia, each with minor differences that helps Alcazar sell the illusion to the women he seduces, one of which having a depiction of Venus with five-eyes.
    • In the very beginning of the episode of "Love and Rocket", Bender criticizes the ship's A.I.'s conservative opinions towards nudity by asking if he would censor the Venus de Venus, a painting depicting a Horrible Gelatinous Blob as Venus in a similar pose as from the Florencian painting, while being named after the sculpture Venus de Milo. The ship does not care much for it.
  • Ugly Americans: After the succubus Callie finishes molting, she is posed similarly to this painting, with her standing over her former "skin", her hand covering her breasts and genitalia, her hair blowing in the wind, two people on her left, and Mark on her right rushing to throw a cloth over her.

 
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The Adventures of Baron Munchausen

Venus' introduction

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