London National Gallery. Sandro Boticelli (1445-1510)
Venus and Mars was painted around 1483 by one of the most important artists of the Renaissance; Sandro Boticelli. The painting has many beautiful details but what really grabbed my attention was that little brooch on Venus’ neckline: A total of 8 pearls or stones in a light color with a ruby in the middle. A simple and timeless piece we’ve brought into our Historic Jewels Collection this month, straight away from Florence. I guess the knowledge Boticelli had as a metalsmith made him being interested in jewelry.
According to the size and form, this painting is 173×69 cm, it seems it was made to be a “spalliera” or headboard, and the reason might have been a marriage celebration.
The protagonists: two of the main mythological gods. Venus, goddess of beauty and love, and Mars, god of war. Venus wears a Florentine design in pure white while Mars is half-naked sleeping at her feet. In the meantime, a few little satyrs play around with his helmet and weapons. It might represent the triumph of love against war.
It’s said it could be a wedding gift ordered by the Medici family. However there’s a detail on the top of the painting that might indicate otherwise: a few wasps, symbol of the Vespucci’s family. I haven’t been able to confirm who ordered this painting.
What I have verified is that the model for Venus was Boticelli’s muse: a beautiful and young lady in the Medici court. Her name was Simonetta Vespucci, an icon in her time. Simonetta was a gorgeous Genovese married to a rich businessman calld Marco Vespucci. The Vespucci and Medici families were actually very good friends.
I’ve also discovered Marco Vespucci was Boticelli’s neighbour during the time of the painting. The couple was very well-known around not only because of their power but of her beauty. Simonetta died when she was 23 of tuberculosis, but all Boticelli’s paintings have shown u show beautiful she was.
To be honest, I can’t imagine a better feeling than lying with the person you love with this painting over you head… I don’t know why but I imagine a just-married couple enjoying this wonder.
The painting is symbol of harmony and happyness, you could be watching it for hours. I think we all were hypnoticed by the beauty of the protagonists and how idilic the scene is itself.