Sandro Botticelli, Birth of Venus

Table of Contents:

Sandro Botticelli

Birth of Venus (1478-79)

Although scholars are unsure who commissioned this piece, it is possible that Botticelli painted the Birth of Venus for the Medici Villa in Correggi, just outside of Florence. The scene takes place on a coast surrounded by trees and hills of dark green and brown. Venus, Greek goddess of love and beauty, appears on a scallop shell in a contrapposto stance. Her weight shifts gracefully onto her left leg, and her hips respond accordingly. Her golden hair curves with her body and blows in the breeze, which comes from the breath of Zephyr to the left. 

At the left of the composition, Zephyr grasps onto Chloris, and pink roses surround them. According to Classical mythology, the birth of roses came along with the birth of the goddess of love and beauty. A nymph dressed in a floral robe welcomes Venus with a pink floral cloak that moves with the wind. The scene should be read as a Neoplatonic allegory for beauty and perfection, featuring the virtue of Venus at the center. These Neoplatonic themes would have been discussed within the Medici court in Quattrocento Florence. 


Legouix, Susan. Botticelli. London: Chaucer Press, 2004. Pg. 118.

Lightbown, Ronald. Sandro Botticelli: Life and Work (vol. 1). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Pg. 86-87.