This painting, probably dating from around 1483, was located in the Medici Villa of Castello during the middle of the sixteenth century. Now it is displayed in the Uffizi Museum in Florence.
Few people know that the title of this work dates from the nineteenth century from a wrong interpretation of its meaning.
In fact, the myth of the birth of Venus was often chosen as a subject in antiquity, but in this work Botticelli wanted to represent not the birth of the goddess but her landing on the island of Cythera or perhaps Cyprus.
In the painting are elements of Greek and Roman iconography, but it is also a very modern work for its time: for example, it is painted on canvas, not commonly used at that time.
The winds that push Venus onto shore are Zephyr and Aura, and the girl who receives her is one of the Three Graces or the Hours.
Along with the famous Allegory of Spring, this painting is from the most serene and graceful period for Botticelli, who often suffered from melancholy and perhaps depression.
During this period, he was interested in Neo-Platonic philosophy, which was popular at the time, a philosophy that focused on the perfect fusion of Spirit and Matter, Ideas and Nature.
The Birth of Venus, however, has bright colors that the Allegory of Spring does not have: it is painted with a mixture of egg yolk and light paint that makes it look like a fresco.
Some naturalistic details are decorated with gold.
Other works of Botticelli, such as his famous Map of Hell, are very dark and gloomy and belong to a different phase of his artistic production.
The Map of Hell is one of the parchments that Botticelli designed to illustrate an edition of The Divine Comedy by Dante.
Botticelli’s illustrations for Dante’s work are now preserved in Berlin and in the Vatican Library in Rome.
Sandro Botticelli was born in Florence in 1445 and became one of the most important painters of the Renaissance, although he was forgotten for a time—only to be rediscovered at the beginning of the twentieth century.
His real name was Sandro Filipepi, and perhaps his nickname “Botticelli” comes from his as “Battigello” (one who beats the gold) that he did in the workshops of his teachers (including Filippo Lippi).
The Medici commissioned Botticelli to paint some of his most famous works, which increased his fame, including the Allegory of Spring.
The famous Adoration of the Magi hides a surprise that shocked the audience of the time: many real characters of Florence are depicted, including the same Botticelli!
Botticelli was also famous in Rome, where he worked for the pope.
As an adult, he was very impressed by the sermons of Savonarola in Florence and is said to have even destroyed some of his paintings that had pagan subjects.
His reputation was so significant that in 1504 he became a member of a committee in charge of selecting the location of Michelangelo’s David in Florence. He suggested that it be placed on the front steps of the Duomo.
In Florence, one of Botticelli’s neighbors was the Vespucci family.
Italian explorer and navigator Amerigo Vespucci, who gave his name to the American continent, was five years younger than Sandro Botticelli and commissioned some of his works.
Botticelli died in Florence in 1510.
Giorgio Vasari, who was the first Western art historian and deeply influenced later scholars, criticized Botticelli’s work, and the success of Michelangelo and Leonardo overshadowed his artistic value.
Even today, some of his works are famous, but many others have an uncertain attribution.
Pictures by Wikipedia