Tag Archives: de’ Medici

Another de’ Medici Venus/Aphrodite


The next week or so Rita Bay’s blog will feature Aphrodite in different forms, mostly with clothes on, to celebrate the upcoming publication of a new story, “Her Teddy Bare.” It’s book #3 of the Aphrodite’s Island, a series of erotic romance stories that takes place on Miss A’s island.

This “Birth of Venus” was painted by Boticelli in 1486 probably for Lorenzo de’ Medici. There is a story behind it related by the Roman historian Pliny. Alexander the Great commissioned a similar painting using his mistress, Pankaspe, as the model. The painter, Apelles, was so overwhelmed by the model that Alexander gave her to him. Centuries later, the emperor Augustus hung the painting in his father Caesar’s mausoleum. Pliny relates that the painting, degraded beyond repair, had been replaced by the Emperor Nero. It was a head thing that Boticelli would outdo Apelles in the painting but also used a Medici mistress for the model.

A Homeric poem provided the inspiration for both:

Of august gold-wreathed and beautiful Aphrodite
I shall sing to whose domain belong
 the battlements of all sea-loved Cyprus where,
blown by the moist breath of Zephyros,
she was carried over the waves of the resounding sea on soft foam.
The gold-filleted Horae happily welcomed her and clothed her
with heavenly raiment.


Tomorrow, more Venus/Aphrodite.


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Primavera: Aphrodite/Venus

AphroditeimagesCA42KGLFVenus/Aphrodite, goddess of love is the central figure draped in red and dressed in blue with Cupid above her. Like the flower-gatherer, she returns the viewer’s gaze. The orange trees behind her (a Medici symbol) form a broken arch above her to draw the eye. She stands in front of a myrtle bush which is sacred to her. Venus/Aphrodite clothed herself in myrtle bush after she emerged from the sea where she was born.

In 1499 the painting was in the collection of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’Medici. One of the models proposed for Venus was Semirande, the wife of Lorenzo. Another possible model was Simonetta Vespucci, a supposed mistress of Guiliano de’ Medici. Since 1919, the painting has hung in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. During World War Two, the picture was moved to Montegufoni Castle about ten miles south-west of Florence to protect it from wartime bombing.

Next week, Treasures of the Uffizi.

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