Monday, 13 June 2011

The Birth Of Venus





Alessandro Botticelli scratched his head; his visitor, the mighty Lorenzo de Medici had left his workshop only minutes ago.  He should be feeling immensely proud that Lorenzo the Magnificent had commissioned him to paint the lovely Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci;  to be chosen by the powerful ruler of the Florentine Republic to execute this commission was a great honour indeed; it was an open secret that both Lorenzo and his younger brother Giuliano were in love with the girl and Lorenzo would want the painting to the very best that gold could buy.

The commission, however,  came with conditions, which was the reason Botticelli frowned. He was to paint her as the embodiment of Venus. Venus had two aspects: she was an earthly goddess who aroused humans to physical love or she was a heavenly goddess who inspired intellectual love in them. So, looking at Venus, the most beautiful of goddesses, might at first raise a physical response in viewers which then lifted their minds towards the Creator. Lorenzo knew exactly what he wanted, he wanted to have his cake and eat it, so to speak.

A difficult proposition and it would not do to upset the great man.

Botticelli's apprentices threw covert glances in his direction. They had witnessed the scene with Lorenzo and were aware of the maestro's discomfiture. What would he do next? They were all ready to help him in any way they could, their love and respect for their teacher was limitless.

Botticelli was unaware of them for the moment, his creative mind churning, ideas being born and discarded one after the other; this was going to prove a difficult birth . . . . .

born  . . . . birth . . . .

yes,  there it was, the germ of an idea . . . . .

yes, he'd paint Venus being born, both innocent and as a fully formed woman, rising from the sea . . . .

stepping out of the waves? enveloped in spray? rising like a mermaid from the ocean?

Hm, maybe not, these images were rather too suggestive of earthly delights . . . . .

A shell, that was it.  Yes, a shell, she'd be carried by a shell, not moving a muscle, hands modestly held in front of her, her long tresses hiding her femininity.

He had it. That's how it would be.

"Go get me the most beautiful shells you can find on the seashore", he shouted to his apprentices, who scattered instantly, each of them wanting to be the one who found the shell the maestro would use.

Pietro came back with the best, a gorgeously frilly conch shell.

"That's the one," Botticelli cried. "Now then,  how to get Venus to arise from it? Half in, half out  . . ?"

37 comments:

  1. Delightful, Friko! I thought at the end he would just paint the shell . . .

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  2. Very nice, with just a touch of naughty. I'm likin' it. A great little "background" story.

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  3. Smiles... another stunning tale with a bit of a twist... love it!

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  4. love your background music,
    super creative story.

    seashells are awesome to have all the time.
    bless your day.

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  5. Brilliant ending...you wrapped it all up tight!

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  6. I am in awe that was a fantastic background piece for such a wonderful painting.

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  7. and thus the birth of a masterpiece...nice to see how his mond works...delightful tale friko

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  8. Oh, this is such fun! I loved my little art history lesson today :)

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  9. Great piece, Friko.
    I love that name: Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci- you'd have to be a goddess with that name.

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  10. Except that Botticelli's Venus arose from half a clam shell. Works better. In the end, apparently, that was the decider.

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  11. A beautiful photo and wonderful story to accompany it! Well done, Friko. :)

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  12. friko - how do you know to write these stories?! i could read books of them. steven

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  13. Oh how you can spin a tale, Friko.

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  14. What a clever story, with a touch of whimsy.

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  15. You are such a wonderful writer, Friko.
    — K

    Kay, Alberta, Canada
    An Unfittie's Guide to Adventurous Travel

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  16. Very nice. I have always been quite partial to The Birth of Venus.

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  17. Your beautiful story does justice to the painting!

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  18. I loved your wonderful story. I could see it clearly painted in my mind. :)

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  19. Lovely story Friko. Held my interest and the shell is lovely enough for a goddess certainly.

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  20. This post was amazing, Friko. How much of our mortal lives do we spend, half in, half out?

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  21. Great story! And brings back the moment when I actually stood in front of that amazing work in Florence. I like your take on this!

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  22. Nicely told, a wonderful Magpie!

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  23. Beautifully imagined, beautifully told, dear Friko.

    I am thinking that from now on, whevever I see that Botticelli image, I will remember your telling of the tale.

    xo

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  24. I too loved the book The Birth of Venus. Love how you spin your tales with names we know but add your creative twists. Great job.
    QMM

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  25. I would love to see these wonderful stories in an illustrated book. Yes I would.
    XO
    WWW

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  26. A real "fly on the wall" piece . I wonder what he would have thought had he known how long his painting would be treasured .... or what she would have thought had she known that , world-wide , we'd still be admiring her beauty via the internet in 2011 ?

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  27. And now I know why some wag called the painting Venus on the half shell. Dianne

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  28. A delightful trip back to Florence via your wonderfully crafted fantasy!

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  29. I wish we had the attempt at using the conch shell before abandoning it for the more convienient scallop. A twisted tale -- well done, Friko!

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  30. so if they ever x-ray the painting might we find that she was originally climbing out of a whelk?

    nicely written - good stuff :)

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  31. Could be the next instalment will be even better. (Can I be Venus?)

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  32. A delightful read...and I'm still laughing!

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  34. Dear Friko: Thank-you for the historically accurate fantasy! Who knew how hot this babe in the half-shell! Venus can be both seductress of the earthen siren and intellectually stimulating conversationalist. I don't think Lorenzo would want a vehicle with one gear! Excellent read and very informative as it is all true!

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