The piece that I have chosen to analyze is The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. This beautiful painting was probably completed sometime between 1482-86 in Florence, Italy, as a commission from Lorenzo de’ Medici. It is believed that he gave this painting and another, La Primavera, to his younger cousin as a wedding gift to decorate his home with. It is currently on display in Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

What really strikes me about this painting is not just the Classical beauty of the characters, but the simple purity portrayed by Venus. Venus has many faces. She is best known as the Roman goddess of love, fertility, and beauty, and often she is thought of as less than innocent and gentle. However, she is also the goddess of chastity, domestic bliss, and marriage. She was even once associated with aspects of Nature, such as the arrival of Spring and gardening.

I much prefer this Venus – beautiful and graceful, covering herself but feeling little shame in her elegant nakedness. She has a “divine perfection” that radiates from her despite her gruesome birth (she was born when Zeus castrated the Titan Uranus and killed him). I like to believe that the nymph about to cover her with a robe is not doing so to hide her naked figure, but as a sign of respect and deep affection for the deity.

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