sandro botticelli birth of venus
Although the pose of Venus is classical in some respects, and borrows the position of the hands from the Venus Pudica type in Greco-Roman sculptures (see section below), the overall treatment of the figure, standing off-centre with a curved body of long flowing lines, is in many respects from Gothic art. Kenneth Clark wrote: “Her differences from antique form are not physiological, but rhythmic and structural. Her whole body follows the curve of a Gothic ivory. It is entirely without that quality so much prized in classical art, known as aplomb; that is to say, the weight of the body is not distributed evenly either side of a central plumb line. . She is not standing but floating. . Her shoulders, for example, instead of forming a sort of architrave to her torso, as in the antique nude, run down into her arms in the same unbroken stream of movement as her floating hair.” 
They have been endlessly analysed by art historians, with the main themes being: the emulation of ancient painters and the context of wedding celebrations (generally agreed), the influence of Renaissance Neo-Platonism (somewhat controversial), and the identity of the commissioners (not agreed). Most art historians agree, however, that the Birth does not require complex analysis to decode its meaning, in the way that the Primavera probably does. While there are subtleties in the painting, its main meaning is a straightforward, if individual, treatment of a traditional scene from Greek mythology, and its appeal is sensory and very accessible, hence its enormous popularity. 
It is highly probable that the work was commissioned by a member of the Medici family, although there is nothing written about the painting before 1550, when Giorgio Vasari describes it in the Medici’s Villa of Castello, owned by the cadet branch of the Medici family since the mid-15th century. This hypothesis would seem to be born out by the orange trees in the painting, which are considered an emblem of the Medici dynasty, on account of the assonance between the family name and the name of the orange tree, which at the time was ‘mala medica’.
Unlike the “Allegory of Spring”, which is painted on wood, the “Birth of Venus” was painted on canvas, a support that was widely used throughout the 15th century for decorative works destined to noble houses.
In painting Venus, Botticelli painted a dark line around the contours of her body. This made it easier to see her bodily forms against the background, and it also emphasized the color of her milky skin. The result of all of this is that Venus almost looks like her flesh is made out of marble, underscoring the sculpturesque nature of her body.
Comparison of the Capitoline Venus (after the Aphrodite of Cnidos) with Venus from Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”.
The painting shows the triumphant Goddess of Love and Beauty. The Romans knew her as Venus, while for the Greeks she was Aphrodite. She stands tall and naked at the centre of the canvas, looking ethereal and luminous. She seems to draw all attention to herself; a symbol of beauty, who is both physical and spiritual. If you believe the neoplatonic philosophers, contemplating her beauty is a way to elevate the human spirit and get closer to the divine.
It’s very likely that the muse who inspired many of Botticelli’s women, included this Venus, was a well-known young blonde woman living in Florence at the time. Her name was Simonetta, and she was the wife of Marco Vespucci. This Marco was cousin of the famous Amerigo Vespucci whose name was given to the new continent of America.
The painting is a masterpiece of linearity and harmonious design, clarity, and brightness of colors, which includes the use of gold in a lot of detail. We have to remember that the painting today is not as glorious it was initially. The colors were brighter, especially the greens of the trees, and the blue of the sky.
The real subject of the painting and its meaning is a mystery under discussion. Over the centuries, many theories and interpretations have been developed, proving the complexity of this work of art. The composition of the painting is quite simple: in the center, there’s a figure of Venus, goddess of love, standing in a shell being washed up on a beach, blown there by two personifications of winds visible on the left, and welcomed by a maiden on the right. There is a contrast between the title of the work and what it represents: we do not see the moment of Venus’ birth. According to the myth, she was born from the foam of the sea, but the painting shows us the moment when she arrives on land. It is clear that the personifications of the winds are Zephyrus and Aura, one impetuous and the other moderate. But the figure of the girl is uncertain: she could be Spring, a subject dear to Botticelli, because her dress is full of flowers, or the personification of motherhood, or one of the Three Graces. She has branches of roses around her waist, and myrtle branches around her neck – sacred plants for Venus.