One of Sandro Botticelli’s most famous paintings represents a classical myth - the birth of Venus (1485–1486). This painting shows the myth of Venus’ birth. Botticelli based the picture in a text: “the profane Birth of Venus and the coronation of the sacred Venus. It was written by Ange Poliziano, based on an ode by Hesiod. ” (Berger Foundation, 2006) “The effect, nonetheless, is distinctly pagan, taking as inspiration written descriptions by the 2nd century historian Lucian of masterpieces of Ancient Greece, was made at a time and place when most artworks depicted Roman Catholic themes.
It is somewhat surprising that this canvas escaped the flames of Savonarola's bonfires, where a number of Botticelli's other "pagan" influenced works perished. Botticelli was very close to Lorenzo de Medici. Because of their friendship and Lorenzo's power, this work was spared from Savonarola's fires and the disapproval of the Church. ” (Wikipedia, 2006) The picture can be divided into three parts: At the left, Zephyr and Chloris fly with tangled limbs. Around them, there are falling roses with golden hearts. At the right part, the trees form part of a flowering orange grove, related to the Greek myth of Hesperides’ sacred garden.
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At the center appears the Nymph, that might be one of the Greek goddesses of the seasons (Spring or Flora) which welcomes her on land; and the shell where it can be seen maybe not Venus’ birth but the moment when she lands at Paphos in Cyprus, having been carried by the shell. Tolstoy’s interpretation of art Leo Tolstoy, besides his well known literature work, has developed his own theory of art, which emphasises the importance of art to human beings through the communication from the artists to the receivers their emotions and feelings. For him art is a mean of communication of feeling rather than ideas.
The artist communicates through the use of colour, sound, movement or words, an emotion or feeling that he has previously experienced. Tolstoy denies different conceptions on art, like those which say that is a manifestation of some mysterious idea, or that art is a way to let off the excess of energy stored by men, or just pure pleasure. For Tolstoy art is a mean of union among men, essential to life, fostering the spiritual evolution of humankind. Birth of Venus under Tolstoy’s perspective It can be stated that Botticelli takes from different artists and thinkers the foundations which uses to express his feelings and emotions.
During his time, the renaissance, ancient mythology was admired again. Artists and men of science gathered around the princes, and they all lived together. Among these men interest in the past grew and they started to translate Virgil, Homer, Hesiod and Pindar. Thus, it was very feasible that the humanist ideas propagated rapidly. The art in Florence started to growth and the humanist ideas were incorporated into the artists’ work. To interpret art it is important to pay attention to the links “between motifs in the works in question and other cultural phenomena of the time, including literary and theological documents. ” (Matthew, 1997)
Boticcelli’s Birth of Venus, painted for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medicis, is a palpable example of what Tolstoy referred in his theory. Without communication between these people it might be impossible to produce this painting. It reflects the ideas that were common among these men. Now, there is the fact of what feelings or emotions Botticelli tried to express. The story of Venus’ birth is a divine message which brought beauty to humanity. It might be understood that the painter tried to represent this myth in a valuable way. The painting communicates Botticelli’s emotions in front of the power of nature’s creative force.
Collingwood’s vision of art Collingwood’s vision of art states that “the work of art is a purely imaginary object, existing only and truly, in the artist’s mind and that it is an expression of the artist emotion. ” (Collingwood, 1938) Therefore, if the work only exists in the artist’s mind, its physical representation is a way to represent it to others. The way that Collingwood sees art could be explained in this order: the artist has feelings which are unconscious, he gets aware of them through emotions and its expressions, and thus he is conscious of the feeling.
Then, the way that he liberates from the oppression of these feelings is through his artistic expression. Thus, art is the way that the artist expresses his own emotions for himself. “Communicating that emotion to others is secondary” ((Collingwood, 1938) as he views artistic creation as, basically, a process of self acknowledgment. The intention is to make it understood the way that the artist who has expressed the emotion felt in having the emotion. Birth of Venus according to Collingwood’s perspective Under Collingwood’s perspective is complex to establish an analysis of Botticelli’s picture.
According to his particular view of art, the painter tries to express his emotions in a way to put his mind at ease. Therefore, it is necessary to understand what feelings or emotions were “perturbing” Botticelli’s mind. He was trying to explore his own emotions, thus the only thing that can be analysed is the secondary communication, the one that is possible thanks to the fact that the artist uses to express himself a language that might be understood by everyone. What emotions were driving the painter? By looking at the picture one may asses that he feels overwhelmed and amazed by nature’s force.
Also, besides the beauty of the painting, an uncommon length of Venus’ neck and the unusual angle that her left arm describes aid to attain harmony, enhancing the feeling of a subtle and tender being, as the story says, a gift from heaven. Botticelli painted "men and women…daddened perpetually by the shadow upon them of the great things from which they shrink. " (David, 1980) Conclusion Collingwood’s theory of art opposes to Tolstoy’s. While Tolstoy says that the only reason of art is communication, Collingwood says that art is a purely imaginary object, existing only in the artist’s mind, thus is an expression of the artist emotion.
They both are aware of the fact that emotions are remarkably essential in the creation of art, but Collingwood’s account of the emotions is very different from Tolstoy’s. He says that the artist expression is a way of self liberation from the feelings or emotions, while Tolstoy’s says that the artist wants to communicate a feeling that the artist has previously experienced. For Collingwood, creation is in some way self-seeking, while for Tolstoy is an act of communication essential for understanding among humanity. References The Birth of Venus (Botticelli) From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/The_Birth_of_Venus_%28Botticelli%29 Rampley, Matthew, 1997 “From Symbol to Allegory: Aby Warburg's Theory of Art”. Journal article; The Art Bulletin, Vol. 79, Cowart, David, 1980 “Thomas Pynchon: The Art of Allusion” Book. Southern Illinois University Press, Wikipedia. 2006 Sandro Botticelli article. November. <http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Sandro_Botticelli> Jacques-Edouard Berger Foundation. “World Art Treasures” <http://www. bergerfoundation. ch/Sandro/44venusprintemps_english. html> R. G. Collingwood, 1938, Art as an Expression
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