Birth of Venus by William Adolphe Bouguereau



Title

Birth of Venus

Artist

William Adolphe Bouguereau

Ref EG115
Type Print
Image Size 17" x 24" (43 x 60 cm)
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Description  
The Birth of Venus is one of the most famous paintings by 19th-century painter William-Adolphe Bouguereau. It depicts not the actual birth of Venus from the sea, but her transportation in a shell, as a fully mature woman, from the sea to Paphos in Cyprus. She is considered the epitome of the finest expressions of the Classical Greek and Roman ideal of the female form and beauty, on a par with Venus de Milo. For Bouguereau, it is considered a tour de force. The canvas stands at just over 9 ft 10 in (3.00 m) high, and 7 ft 2 in (2.18 m) wide. The subject matter, as well as the composition, resembles a previous rendition of this subject, Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus, as well as Raphael's The Triumph of Galatea. Venus is considered to be the embodiment of feminine beauty and sexuality, and these traits are shown in the painting. Venus' head is tilted to one side, and her facial expression is calm, comfortable with her nudity. She raises her arms, arranging her thigh-length, brilliantly red hair. She sways elegantly in an "S" curve, emphasizing the feminine curves of her body. The model for Venus was Marie Georgine, princess of Ligne. In 1861, she was on a short holiday in Paris with her twin flame. Together, they modeled for his "Abduction of Psyche" and "Flora and Zephyr". Bouguereau worked out other sketches and paintings later in life from photographs he took of the couple. Some of Bouguereau's other works, like La Nuit, are also based on her. To the upper-left of the painting, there is a shadow in the clouds. It appears to be the silhouette of the artist, with a head, shoulder, arm, and a raised fist that would seem to hold a paintbrush.