Masterpiece Stories

Mars And Venus, Sandro Botticelli (Painting Of The Week)

Zuzanna Stańska 12 February 2017 min Read

Valentines Day is coming. What else could we feature in our weekly series "Painting of the Week" if not a scene of Mars and Venus created by our legendary Botticelli? [caption id="attachment_3529" align="aligncenter" width="620"]Sandro Botticelli, Venus and Mars, c. 1485, National Gallery London Sandro Botticelli, Venus and Mars, c. 1485, National Gallery London[/caption] This painting is not only about love. It's about love conquering war. Good one for these disturbing times we're living in. Venus was the Goddess of Love. Mars was one of her numerous lovers - and he was the God of War. Here, he is asleep and unarmed, unaware of all the satyrs fooling around. Venus is awake and alert. She is focused and watching his lover, sleeping the 'little death' which comes after making love. Nothing can wake him up, even a trumpet in his ear. The little satyrs have stolen his lance - a joke to show that he is now disarmed. You may ask why the painting has such weird dimensions. This work was probably a piece of bedroom furniture, perhaps a bedhead or piece of wainscoting, most probably the 'spalliera' or backboard from a chest or day bed. The wasps ('vespe' in Italian) at the top right suggest a link with the Vespucci family, though they may be no more than a symbol of the stings of love. It is believed that the model for Venus was Simonetta Vespucci, the most beautiful woman of her time. Botticelli had painted her also in two of his other masterpieces, namely, Primavera and Birth of Venus. You can read more about Simonetta, in our past article Simonetta Vespucci - The Top Model of Renaissance.

Recommended

Antoni, Gaudí, Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain, My Modern Met Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Sagrada Familia by Antoni Gaudí

Today’s modern construction techniques allow us to build huge structures in just a few months or years. For example, the Shard in London was built...

Joanna Kaszubowska 25 June 2022

Louise Bourgeois, Maman, 1999, steel, bronze, marble. Stavros Niarchos Cultural Foundation, Athens, Greece. Author's photo. Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Maman by Louise Bourgeois

Maman is one of the most iconic sculptures ever created. Its dimensions are monumental, and it can only be installed either outdoors or in an...

Errika Gerakiti 23 June 2022

Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: Virgin and Child Surrounded by Angels by Jean Fouquet

One look at the 15th century masterpiece, and you may think it is actually a modern creation. Pops of deep blue and red cherubs form the background...

Rachel Witte 14 June 2022

Johan Thomas Lundbye, View from Kitnæs on Roskilde Fjord, 1843, National Gallery, Copenhagen, Denmark. Detail. Masterpiece Stories

Masterpiece Story: View from Kitnæs on Roskilde Fjord by Johan Thomas Lundbye

View from Kitnæs on Roskilde Fjord by Johan Thomas Lundbye is a masterpiece of 19th century Danish landscape painting. It set a new standard for the...

James W Singer 6 June 2022