Monday, 5 November 2012

Cultural Bliss : The Birth Of Venus

The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli 1485

I can't recall when I first set eye's on this beautiful work of art or how old I was, but I do remember being mesmerised by it a an extremely young age. I remember loving the fact it involved the ocean, my love even as a child, the colours within the painting and thinking how beautiful the 'lady' was. I wanted to grow my hair as long as hers, it was already curly so I thought I was already half way there. I lived in a charming little coastal village called Shellharbour which originally got its name from the amount of shells along the oceans edge. I would wonder along the sand for hours looking for the perfect shell like that in the painting. I knew the painting had something to do with Greek mythology and so began my fascination with it. 

It wasn't until an adult when I studied art history through my fine arts course that I really understood this image. It is of course, The Birth of Venus  completed in 1485 by  Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli. It is said to have been commissioned by Lorenzo Medici, a powerful and wealthy Italian statesman and ruler of the Florentine Republic. The painting is said to be a reflection of the Medici family values. 

The moment Venus arrives ashore from the depths of the ocean

The Renaissance period began after the long oppression of the Dark Ages. It was when Italians passionately tried to recapture the former glory of Ancient Rome. Art was extremely important to this period as artists referenced Greek and Roman philosophers such as Socrates, Plato and Aristotle through the depiction of Greek and Roman mythology.

Zephyr and Aura

So, what is this painting all about? I hear you say. It represents the moment Venus the Goddess of love and beauty comes ashore from the great depths of the ocean.  She is being gently pushed ashore by the breath of Zephyr and Aura, the god and goddess of wind and breeze. Standing in the shell with all the purity of a new born in the spot you would normally find a pearl. 

Hora, the Goddess of spring

Venus becomes suddenly modest, and is covered with the cape of Hora the goddess of spring, who in doing so allows Venus to take on her true sacred nature and become the mother and patron saint of all the forces of creation. Venus goes on to represent spiritual beauty and intellectual love. 

Do you have an early childhood memory of being mesmerised by a work of art? It could be a painting, sculpture or piece of music. Was it in a gallery or a picture you saw in a magazine or book? Is it something you still love today? It is an interesting trip down memory lane to take. 

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