The birth of Venus: Botticelli’s Masterpieces in Uffizi, Florence
The Birth of Venus by Botticelli (if you remember, a source of inspiration for a Florence – related book too) is – along with her “sister”, the Primavera – one of the most iconic Renaissance paintings. Let’s discover it together!
The birth of Venus: when a genius is at work
Sandro Botticelli (his name in full was: Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi. And, yes, it’s not you: it sound weird in XXI Century Italian too!!!) was a true Florentine: he was born in Florence indeed, in Via Nuova (Now Via del Porcellana) on March 1st 1445.
He will die in Florence on May 17th 1510.
Sandro’s father was a tanner; his brother Antonio was a goldsmith, while “Botticelli” was a sort of family – nickname.
Probably Sandro worked as an apprentice of Antonio for a while, but his career starts in 1464: he will work as an apprentice of Filippo Lippi (Brother Filippo di Tommaso Lippi, painter, 1406-1469), then with Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Andrea del Verrocchio.
His first “independent” artwork is the Fortezza (The Fortitude, 1469-1470. Painted for the Tribunal Hall of Piazza della Signoria, is now part of the Uffizi collection).
The Birth of Venus is a more mature work, as it dates to 1482-1485.
Venus is of course the centre and focus of the painting, over the iconic giant shell. On the left the wind-god Zephyr. We are not sure about the interpretation of the other (female) “blowing” character.
On the right, one of the Horae (Hours), probably the Spring one (another connection with the Primavera painting, possibly).
The philosophical background of the work is Neoplatonism, a consistent part of the mindset which determined the Renaissance revolution.
The Medieval darkness leaves space to enlightenment and beauty: Venus is the symbol of how the earthly, mundane beauty can bee the portal to discover the otherworldly one.
More than five centuries later, we still see that beauty…