This is one of the artist’s most
recognized paintings. It depicts Venus, the goddess of love,
born out of a seashell, a fully mature woman. It is worthy to note that
in classical times, the seashell was the symbol for the female
genitalia, and as such, Botticelli was artfully referencing the
goddess’s actual birth.
For Plato, Venus had two aspects: she was an earthly goddess who aroused humans
to physical love or she was a heavenly goddess who inspired intellectual
love in them. Plato further argued that contemplation of physical
beauty allowed the mind to better understand spiritual beauty. So,
looking at Venus, the most beautiful of goddesses, might at first raise a
physical response in viewers which then lifted their minds towards the
godly. A Neoplatonic reading of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus suggests that 15th-century viewers would have looked at the painting and felt their minds lifted to the realm of divine love.
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi (Sandro Botticelli) || Birth of Venus (La Nascita di Venere) ||detail.
Come altre opere dell'artista si possono trovare al loro interno vari simboli che riconducono alla committenza medicea che il Botticelli ebbe, come l'alloro sulle spalle della ninfa, simbolo appunto della famiglia.
Like other works of this artist we can be found various symbols that remember the relationship between Botticelli and the Medici family; an example is the laurel on the shoulders of the nymph, symbol of the florentine family.