For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been drawn to Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus” painting. I’ve always been a fan of greek mythology and Aphrodite, whose Roman god name is Venus. She is the goddess of love and is known for being the most beautiful of all the goddesses as well (so beautiful that in greek mythology she was part of a beauty contest that in turns created the Trojan War. Plot twist: she won.) I suppose part of me connected with that; the idea of unquestionable beauty was literally attractive to my child’s mind and that connection has correlated into a love for the painting of her birth.
There is something so peaceful and yet complicated about the work; so much going on, and yet when people use the painting in souvenirs, they focus solely on her face. I think one of the reasons I love the painting so much is her body; it’s not perfect and tiny. She has a realer body than is depicted generally by mainstream “beautiful” people these days; her body has fat on it in a healthy way and she does not look like a malnourished stick. Yet at the same time, her body proportions are impossible: her neck and torso are way too long. So there’s give and take, I suppose. There are also three other people in the painting; on the left are the winds, Zephyr and Aura, and on the right is a minor Greek goddess of the seasons and other divisions of time; she helps tend to Venus.
Even with so much going on in the painting, there is a sense of calm that washes over me when I look at it. That being said, I was so excited to see it in person at the Uffizi Gallery here in Florence. I took my best friend there for her birthday since she’s an art history lover; my present was getting to listen to her knowledge on all of the paintings. We waited in line for only ten or so minutes, which is not bad considering museums like the Uffizi get the most foot traffic, especially with tourist season STILL somehow upon us. Once we finally got inside, all I could say was “Where is Venus?” My friend smiled and said, “Don’t worry, we’ll find her.” Not wanting to be disrespectful to the other art in the room, I was patient and politely looked at all the words that were on the lower floors, but if I’m being honest, I could hardly concentrate. Finally, I found the rooms dedicated to Botticelli and I may or may not have ran through them to get to Venus. But finally, there she was; live and in shell. Seeing the painting in person quite literally took my breath away. The intricacy was amazing, and if anything my only critique was the people viewing it. Everyone was trying to get their own pictures of it. My thinking is, if you want to see a picture of a painting, look it up! Otherwise, you are there and you get the privilege to actually look at the real thing; look at the strokes, see how it makes you feel. Maybe I sound a little pretentious, but I just don’t see why you would spend money to only takeaway a mediocre photograph. Seeing the real thing is so much better.
Of course, this being said, I had to get my photograph with her to document our first meeting. And I took one more picture of the three flowers being blown by the winds into Venus. Those three flowers are now forever with me on my inner arm, and I couldn’t be happier. Thanks Botticelli!
- All Smiles with Venus: Isabel