Botticelli and His Portrayal of Women Essay

This essay has a total of 964 words and 7 pages.

Botticelli and His Portrayal of Women




Botticelli is one of the most famous artists during the Italian Renaissance. He was very
well know for the portrayal of the female figure and his ability to incorporate femininity
as a symbol of life itself and/or nature illustrated by the changes of seasons.
Botticelli most famous figure was that of Venus, the goddess of love. She was
incorporated into two of his most famous works, The Birth of Venus and Primavera.

Most of Botticelli’s women had that typical hourglass figure to them . During the time
period in which these works were created, women with the physical characteristics of Venus
were considered to be the ideal feminine figure. These women were considered to be ideal
because during this era, flesh was a symbol of health, wealth, and stability (“Sandro …”,
1).

Women of this built were obviously healthy because this showed that they ate well and were
thus financially secure. Thin women on the other hand were viewed as being poor and thus
underfed and unhealthy due to lack of funds and hard labor. Also, men viewed Venus
(especially her wide hips) to be the perfect figure, because they saw that type of figure
to be designed especially for the purposes of child bearing (Turner 151).

Venus, the goddess of love, is illustrated in Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, as
the ultimate glorification of the female figure, because this painting

depicts the beginning of all beginnings, which is the birth of the goddess of love
herself. It depicts this image because she is drawn as a “pure” person, not knowing much
about what is happening. Botticelli does not show any signs of disrespect towards women.
In fact in this painting, even though the goddess is

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nude, he depicts her in such a fashion that shows she has self-confidence and lack of
embarrassment. The arm that covers her breasts and the log hair covering the genitals is
how she is preventing herself from being “exposed” and essentially how he maintains her
modesty (Dempsey, 35).

Botticelli also delineates the love goddess to be sexy. He creates this illusion by
giving her the long, wavy, golden hair. In general, long hair is considered to be sexy.
Botticelli adds the wind factor, which in turn makes Venus more attracting because it
leaves to the mind the imagination of her becoming nude if she did not hold the hair in
the position that he placed it. The slight coverage of the breasts and the genitals is
what makes Venus to be a very sexy and attractive woman. Revealing just a slight bit of
the private areas is very attracting. It leaves to the imagination the rest of the
picture.

Botticelli represents the beauty of his women in another of his famous works. In
“Primavera,” he depicts the birth of a new beginning. Back in that time period, spring
meant new life. Flowers bloomed and people survived harsh winters. Botticelli is
brilliant in the way he depicts this rebirth.

The chronology of “Primavera” runs right to left, contrary to the pictorial sequence in
the standard painting. He depicts the painting in this order because according to the
Roman calendar, spring unfolded from right to left (Turner, 152). The painting begins
with Chloris. Chloris is supposedly the reason for the appearance of Flora, the goddess
of flowers. Chloris was raped by Zephyr, the man all the way to the right of the painting
(Dempsey, 44). The flowers

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that come out of her mouth, onto Flora’s dress (whom Chloris was transformed into after
the rape), symbolize the birth of a new beginning.

This is said to be the part where the new beginning comes about. The flowers from Flora
then begin to emerge from the bottom of Venus’s feet. Venus in this painting is once
again meant to be the beginning of the beginning of a new life. Spring is the known to be
the beginning of new life because that meant that one survived the harsh winters. In this
painting, Venus symbolizes the survival of the past season. The three goddesses to the
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