Sandro Botticelli, Venus and Mars

Table of Contents:

Sandro Botticelli

Venus and Mars (1483-85)

Botticelli painted this image between 1483-85, though scholars are unsure about the commission. This Classical motif displays the triumph of Venus over Mars, demonstrating the ability of the goddess of love to overcome the blunt masculinity of the god of war. Mars has fallen asleep after sleeping with Venus, and the satyrs surrounding him have disarmed him. One of the satyrs prepares to blow into his ear through a conch shell, punishing Mars for falling asleep. The painting was commissioned to adorn a marriage chamber, hence the themes of love and sexual union. 

The scene takes place in Venus’ myrtle grove with plains and hills in the distance. As this is a marriage portrait, Venus reclines fully clothed in a transparent white robe. Mars lies in a deep sleep, fully nude except for the loin cloth. Botticelli’s depiction of Mars has been regarded as a beautiful male nude with pristine modeling and naturalistic musculature. 


Legouix, Susan. Botticelli. London: Chaucer Press, 2004. pg. 108.

Lightbown, Ronald. Sandro Botticelli: Life and Work (vol. 1). Berkeley: University of California Press, 1978. Pg. 90-91.