10 Famous Paintings You Should Know: No 8, The Birth of Venus by Botticelli.

The Birth of venus
The birth of venus
The birth of Venus: Botticelli 1485 Uffizi Florence

What do I need to know about the Renaissance?

Botticelli is probably one of the most famous Renaissance artists, it’s important to know the great Renaissance artists and the order that they came in.

We’ve got early Renaissance, middle Renaissance, high Renaissance, and it’s important to know where you are in the Renaissance because the Renaissance brought a massive amount of change into art.

So if we think of early Renaissance it is Giotto, middle Renaissance Botticelli then we get Da Vinci moving into high Renaissance with Michelangelo, and after Michelangelo we get Raphael the New Kid On The Block, and that is the order you need to know.

Sandro Botticelli

Why does it sound so much like the Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles?

That’s right! The Ninja Turtles were all named after Renaissance Artists. Isn’t that cool?

Why did Botticelli’s painting cause a scandal?

This painting caused a bit of a scandal and once again it really summarises the change in thinking and thought process during the Renaissance and that’s probably the most important point.

If we think of pre-Renaissance we think of medieval art, we think of Catholic driven art, Byzantium art, art driven by the church with a lot of rules.

What did the Renaissance bring?

What the Renaissance did, remember Renaissance brings new birth, is that it revived an interest in the classics, they absolutely fell in love again with the Greek classical art and thinking and Philosophy.

A lot of this was banned by the church during the dark ages. So for a 1000 years, the world didn’t really have access to this.

When they discovered a small Greek town and dug up all these beautiful statues outside Florence, the Medici family funded the Renaissance and they decided we need to get more of this look at this amazing art.

They thought that their art really sucked, so they needed to up our game. If this is what our ancestors did we can do so much more. This really sparked their interest?

The Renaissance moved away from the church!

What we see in the Renaissance is that it is moving away from the church and the church’s governing of art.

We get the first statues because people were, for the first time in a1000 years allowed to make statues again.

In the middle ages that was banned because it was seen as Idol worship. Moses banned the worshipping of the Golden Calf in Exodus and that was interpreted that men shouldn’t be making statues, so statues were banned.

Now what’s interesting about this painting is that it is not of a Biblical narrative, it is not a biblical story at all. It is a classical story, it is about the goddess Aphrodite.

In ancient Greek times she was known as Aphrodite and in Roman times she was known as Venus. Remember the Romans just took all the Greek gods and slapped on different names and took the whole Pantheon with them.

What was important about the Renaissance Zeitgeist?

We don’t just see Christian narratives, we see a lot of classical pagan stories, legends, myths.

This is because a lot of the art wasn’t funded by the church but was funded independently by bankers like the Medici family or other wealthy families of Florence and Milan that wanted to decorate their palaces and plazas.

The Birth of Venus was inlaid with 14 karat gold!

All these little leaves blowing in the wind are 14-karat gold ,it is amazing.

Another important fact about this painting is the importance of botanicals and plants. Every single plant. herb, and flower in Renaissance had a very specific meaning.

Unfortunately a lot of that was lost and we’re not a hundred percent sure of all the meanings but we know that Botticelli spent a heck of a lot of time depicting certain herbs and flowers and they were done with so much intricacy and double zero brushes.

The painting glows. The way that they got the painting to glow is by using egg white. They mixed egg whites into the oils and put a glaze on it, giving it an absolute translucency of the skin.

This painting is breathtakingly beautiful, it really makes you stop and want to sit in front of it for the entire day. There’s no way that a book or a photo can capture all the detail that’s going on in the story.

What were the important aspects about Venus according to Plato?

According to the ancient Greek philosopher Plato, Venus had two aspects: she was an earthly goddess who inspired humans to physical love, but on the other hand she was a celestial goddess who inspired humans to intellectual love.

Plato also argued that thinking about physical beauty enabled the human mind to comprehend spiritual beauty. This meant there was a hope that the viewers would have felt themselves being inspired to contemplate spiritual, divine love.

You will notice that she is naked!

It’s also important to note that Aphrodite is naked but she is covering the most essential parts.

Back then it was kind of accepted if you painted pagan stories as naked as long as you didn’t paint biblical stories naked.

That is why a lot of artists preferred to do the classical stories and fables because that gave them license to really paint naked people and allowed them to really study anatomy.

Please read about the other paintings in this series of 10 Famous paintings, The Mona LisaThe Last SupperStarry nightScreamGuernicaThe Kiss, and number 9 in the series, Velázquez’s Las Meninas.

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  1. Pingback: 10 Famous Paintings You Should Know: 7 Girl with the Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer - Lillian Gray - Art School

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