Essay on the "Birth of Venus" a painting by Sandro Botticelli in the Early Renaissance

Essay by hibanks24 March 2003

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Birth of Venus

In the time of Sandro Botticelli's painting of Birth of Venus, the Italian Renaissance had begun; Italians were intrigued with the classical Greek and Roman mythology as well as its works of art. The story of Venus goes back thousands of years to Greek mythology concerning the sky god Uranus, and the earth goddess, Gaea. Uranus was a self- centered, pompous preeminent male deity, who with Gaea procreated the twelve Titans. He detested his children and was afraid that one of them would overthrow him. He placed the twelve Titans in the underworld of Gaea, not allowing them to come forth. Gaea was in great pain and suffering because of the twelve Titans she held in her womb. She became angry with Uranus because of his dishonorable treatment of her and especially her children. So with her youngest son Cronus she thought of a plan to get rid of Uranus.

Gaea created a great steel sickle and gave it to Cronus; she then enticed her husband Uranus to lay with her. Gaea had released Cronus and he came upon his parents while they were in the throes of passion, and with a mighty swing he loped off his father genitals and threw then over his shoulder into the ocean. The genitals bubbled and foam in the water and out of this potion sprung Venus.

The painting of the Story of Venus was commissioned by the powerful Medici banking family of Florence in 1482, in Castello, for a villa near Florence belonging to Cosimo de Medici. For this work Botticelli used egg tempera on a canvas measuring five feet eight inches high by nine feet one inch in length. Botticelli is considered to be from the Lyrical School of painting and was associated with the Philological School...