The Birth of Venus by Sancro Botticelli
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The painting is a quintessential example of Neoplatonic Renaissance ideals. Venus exudes a tremendous physical beauty that symbolizes her divine grace. Not only was she capable of creating physical arousal she could also inspire a deeper intellectual study of faith and beauty.
Other interpretations of The Birth of Venus suggest that the painting was Botticelli's representation of a bride before her wedding. It is also possible that the painting was commissioned because the only work that similarly pictured Venus, a painting by Apelles, had been significantly damaged.
The latter explanation, that Botticelli had recreated a scene from Apelles, might also shed light on Botticelli's uncharacteristic two-dimensional approach to the painting. Botticelli was considered a master at complicated and involved compositions, yet this piece reads more as a replication of an ancient Greek style. Regardless of what message he chose to convey it seems clear that Botticelli borrowed from a few different dogmas to create his tribute to Venus.
Botticelli was not drawn to naturalism in the same fashion as many of his Renaissance contemporaries. Venus is shown in a position that would be difficult for a figure model to hold and with features that are anatomically exaggerated. The piece was clearly not grounded in reality, and was meant to be viewed as a reflection of fantasy.