Botticelli, Birth of Venus


Tempera on Canvas

172.5cm x 278.5 cm

Uffizi Gallery, Florence

This famous painting hangs in a gallery at the Uffizi, surrounded by visitors. What is often overlooked is how essential understanding of Humanist philosophy is to understanding this piece. This can “only be understood as a pictoral representation of the magical and mythological ideals of Ficino and his philosophy” (Holmes, 244), an homage to Neo-Platonism and an argument about the new mores of Beauty. The optimism of Humanist myth is here blended with Botticelli’s calm melancholy. This created a conflict of consciousness which eventually “overtakes the cultural and figurative values of the Renaissance”(Bruno, 32).