Venus and Mars (c. 1485) by Sandro Botticelli

Venus and Mars - Sandro Botticelli - 1483

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Artwork Information

TitleVenus and Mars
ArtistSandro Botticelli
MediumTempera on Panel
Dimensions173.4 x 69.2 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationNational Gallery, London

About Venus and Mars

The artwork “Venus and Mars” created by Sandro Botticelli in 1483 is a mythological painting that belongs to the Early Renaissance movement. Using tempera on panel as a medium, the piece measures 173.4 by 69.2 centimeters. It currently resides at the National Gallery in London.

The painting depicts the Roman goddess Venus and god Mars in a post-coital repose, with Venus alert and Mars asleep and unarmed. Venus is portrayed as an embodiment of beauty and grace, adorned in a flowing white garment with golden embellishments, sitting upright with a contemplative gaze. Mars, the god of war, is reclined, his physical strength and combative prowess set aside, as evidenced by the discarded armor and broken lance near his figure. He lies exposed and vulnerable, surrendered to sleep and the seductive power of Venus.

Surrounding the central figures are mischievous satyrs – half-human, half-goat creatures associated with Dionysus, the god of wine and revelry, often linked to the untamed natural world and sensuality. One satyr is attempting to awaken Mars by blowing a conch shell in his ear, while another interferes with his armor. These playful figures contrast with the calm serenity of Venus, emphasizing the triumph of love over war.

The background of the artwork is composed of a detailed grove of myrtle trees, which are associated with Venus, symbolizing love and fertility. This lush backdrop, along with the relaxed postures of the figures, suggests a secluded and tranquil setting well removed from the chaos of battle and daily toil.

In summary, “Venus and Mars” by Botticelli presents a narrative pulled from ancient mythology, embodying the themes of love’s dominion over war and the civilizing effects of feminine influence on masculine energy, all captured within the aesthetic and technical paradigms of the Early Renaissance.

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