Mythology Art: The Birth of Venus by Adolphe Bouguereau
The Birth of Venus (La Naissance de Vénus) 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 the transportation of Venus in a shell (a visual metaphor for the vulva) from the sea to Paphos in Cyprus.
For Bouguereau, it was truly a tour de force. The canvas stands at just over 9’10” (3m) high, and 7’2″ (2.2m) wide. The subject matter, as well as the composition, resembles the rather more famous rendition of this subject, Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus, as well as Raphael’s painting, The Triumph of Galatea.
The painting is in the permanent collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris but is currently on exhibit in the M. H. de Young Memorial Museum in San Francisco as part of the Birth Of Impressionism exhibition.