Botticelli's Birth Of Venus

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Botticelli - "Birth Of Venus" -1485 Botticelli was commissioned by his patron Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco to paint a piece illustrating a poem by Poliziano. In the poem, Poliziano describes Venus rising from the sea, and this is what Botticielli depicts here, not the actual birth of the goddess, but the moments afterwards, as she is being blown towards the shore by Zephyr, the wind, and Chloris.

The central figure of the painting is Venus herself, and breaking from the tradition of classical painting, the Venus's weight is not distributed either side of a central line. This is to give the impression that she is not standing on the shell, but floating.

Liberties have also been taken with the shape of her body. Her head seems positioned on her neck at an impossible angle, and her rounded shoulders smoothly join her arms in an unbroken line of movement, dropping away from her neck slightly too steeply.

Botticelli has done these things, not out of error, but in order to keep the Venus's physical form in keeping with the rhythmic movement of the painting. The use of outline was the most important thing to Botticelli here, as in so many of his paintings, realistic detail has been compromised to ensure flowing composition and idealised outlines. I think that Botticelli also wanted the beauty of Venus to be the most striking thing about the painting, and indeed, these physical anomalies can easily be overlooked because of the elegant lines of the composition and the beauty of Venus.

Heightening the purity and ethereal appearance of Venus are the winds to the left hand side, Zephyr and Chloris, and of the nymph Hora who is preparing to conceal Venus' nakedness to the right. The movement of these three figures make the Venus stand out...