“Birth of Venus”, by Sandro Botticelli (Firenze 1445 – 1510)

From Wikipedia:

“Venus is the second planet from the Sun. It is named after the Roman goddess of love and beauty. As the brightest natural object in Earth’s night sky after the Moon, Venus can cast shadows and can be, on rare occasions, visible to the naked eye in broad daylight. Venus lies within Earth’s orbit, and so never appears to venture far from the Sun, either setting in the west just after dusk or rising in the east a little while before dawn.

Venus is a terrestrial planet and is sometimes called Earth’s “sister planet” because of their similar size, mass, proximity to the Sun, and bulk composition.

As one of the brightest objects in the sky, Venus has been a major fixture in human culture for as long as records have existed. It has been made sacred to gods of many cultures, and has been a prime inspiration for writers and poets as the “morning star” and “evening star”. Venus was the first planet to have its motions plotted across the sky, as early as the second millennium BC.

Due to its proximity to Earth, Venus has been a prime target for early interplanetary exploration. It was the first planet beyond Earth visited by a spacecraft (Mariner 2 in 1962), and the first to be successfully landed on (by Venera 7 in 1970). Venus’s thick clouds render observation of its surface impossible in visible light, and the first detailed maps did not emerge until the arrival of the Magellan orbiter in 1991.”

From the website of the BBC Sky at Night magazine:

“Venus returns to evening skies in April 2021, making it a planet to keep an eye on for the rest of the year…

Mercury and Venus have a close encounter on 25 April. Venus was in superior conjunction on 25 March and is now emerging into the evening sky.

Its separation from the Sun isn’t great in April, but the steep angle the ecliptic plane makes with the western horizon at sunset during spring helps keep Venus above the horizon after sunset.

On 25 April, Venus and Mercury appear separated by just 1.2˚ after the Sun has set. They remain above the west-northwest horizon for around 45 minutes after the Sun…”

From the website of Le Gallerie degli Uffizi (Florence):

“Known as the “Birth of Venus”, the composition actually shows the goddess of love and beauty arriving on land, on the island of Cyprus, born of the sea spray and blown there by the winds, Zephyr and, perhaps, Aura. The goddess is standing on a giant scallop shell, as pure and as perfect as a pearl. She is met by a young woman, who is sometimes identified as one of the Graces or as the Hora of spring, and who holds out a cloak covered in flowers. Even the roses, blown in by the wind are a reminder of spring. The subject of the painting, which celebrates Venus as symbol of love and beauty, was perhaps suggested by the poet Agnolo Poliziano.

It is highly probable that the work was commissioned by a member of the Medici family, although there is nothing written about the painting before 1550, when Giorgio Vasari describes it in the Medici’s Villa of Castello, owned by the cadet branch of the Medici family since the mid-15th century. This hypothesis would seem to be born out by the orange trees in the painting, which are considered an emblem of the Medici dynasty, on account of the assonance between the family name and the name of the orange tree, which at the time was ‘mala medica’.

Unlike the “Allegory of Spring”, which is painted on wood, the “Birth of Venus” was painted on canvas, a support that was widely used throughout the 15th century for decorative works destined to noble houses.

Botticelli takes his inspiration from classical statues for Venus’ modest pose, as she covers her nakedness with long, blond hair, which has reflections of light from the fact that it has been gilded; even the Winds, the pair flying in one another’s embrace, is based on an ancient work, a gem from the Hellenistic period, owned by Lorenzo the Magnificent.”

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