Analysis: Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus”

“The Birth of Venus” (1485-86) is the third painting by Sandro Botticelli that PluribusOne™ has analyzed in depth. In our analyses of “Venus and Mars” and “Adoration of the Magi,” we found that Botticelli used cultural icons—mythological and biblical figures and settings—to depict and immortalize his friends, associates, and patrons, including members of the Medici and Vespucci families as well as the Vatican. Such paintings recorded their behind-the-scenes contributions to the development of the nascent superstructure of Western civilization. 

For more than five hundred years, scholars have considered various interpretations of this striking painting (see Image File #26), providing only superficial insights and dead-end rationalizations. The scene is neither based on a wedding nor a Homeric hymn. Nor is it displaying a mere myth. Nor is it derived from a poem. It is not simply neo-platonic, and it is also not a Christian allegory. No one has supplied an understanding of the meaning and purpose of this visual allegory—until now. PluribusOne™ has used its Noetitek™ meta-tools to examine dozens of puzzle pieces, fit them together, and re-examine the results in the process of making a conclusive and history-making discovery. 

The painting’s symbolism is layered. Therefore, first, the obviously rich and varied symbolism that has long bewildered unpretentious historians had to be properly and fully decoded. Then, that decoded information had to be correlated with the forces, faces, and events that were unfolding at the time—revealing the one “main event” that was imminent in the mid-1480s: the birth of a New World. “The Birth of Venus” was designed to commemorate, in advance, the arrival of Christopher Columbus on the shores of a land of abundance to be called America. 

The wealth of evidence for this illuminating conclusion is more than adequate to prove its truth, although some of the elements of the surrounding story remain to be proved. For example, we believe, but cannot yet prove, that the person who commissioned the painting was Pope Innocent VIII who, elected to papal office in 1484, would die only days before Columbus sailed in 1492. The painting was apparently intended to express gratitude to King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, in advance—to induce, acknowledge, and immortalize their support—for funds to cover the balance of the cost of Columbus’s trip to officially discover the Americas. Ferdinand and Isabella are depicted in the painting as the mythical gods Zephyr and Chloris, propelling the archetypal Venus (in the name of St. Mary, and further echoed in the name of Columbus’s ship: the “Santa Maria,” with Templar crosses on her sails) successfully to the distant shore. 

More basic evidence for this analysis is seen in the coloration of the goddess of natural order who gestures favorably to “Venus” at the shoreline. She is wearing the colors later used in the American flag: red (mantle), white (dress), and blue (flowers). Venus—bearing the face of Simonetta Vespucci, relative of Amerigo Vespucci—is depicted on a large shell as if to present her as a pearl, but it is mostly to highlight the riches in pearls that were already known (from ancient documents) to exist along the coast of this new world, riches to be brought back to Spain. Other pieces of evidence, more detailed yet equally potent, are too numerous to include here; they will be presented elsewhere in a larger thesis. 

Botticelli was more than a painter. He was an initiate of an ancient mystery school. Some say he was one of the Grand Masters of the Priory of Sion. Whatever the name of the secret society, we believe that Sandro Botticelli was among those who carried forward the invisible banner of the Knights Templar.

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8 Responses to “Analysis: Botticelli’s “The Birth of Venus””

  1. Sara B. Says:

    Your argument that the image is allegorical, that the characters are metaphors, is compelling. However, many apparently competent historians have seen in this painting the expression of Hermetic philosophy, an alchemical inspiration or teaching.

  2. PluribusOne™ Says:

    As we said in the post above, the symbolism is two-tiered. In the more subtle layer Botticelli did utilize his knowledge of the occult/esoteric. Fundamental to the painting’s message, its three main sections: right, left, and center express interaction of the five alchemical elements: earth, air, fire, water, and aether.

    The two figures and scene to the viewer’s left side represent water and air. The figure and scene at the viewer’s right represent fire and earth. The ethereal unclothed (un-embodied immortal/ archetypal spirit) of Venus at center represents aether, which tells us that we are being given a glimpse into the invisible-to-human-eyes etheric realm wherein the imminent historical event has already, in effect, taken place and is now (in 1486) in the process of taking form.

  3. Stark Raven Says:

    Do you think that Botticelli’s painting is the origin of the Catholic lawn shrines that some people call Mary-on-the-half shell?

  4. PluribusOne™ Says:

    I’m not sure. The term has always sounded disrespectful to me, but maybe it has always had a positive connotation for some people. In any case, I AM sure that I’m not the first to have made the Venus-Mary connection, although I have not seen it made elsewhere with regard to the painting. And, the term “Venus on the Half Shell” is also not new, so I count it as possible that the term you mentioned and “Venus on the Half Shell” might both trace back to the Renaissance-Reformation era.

    Sometimes things are synchronistic, or just garden-variety coincidental. I was recently listening to an old Joan Baez song, “Diamonds and Rust,” and this extract from the lyrics caught my attention: “…the Madonna was yours for free, yes the girl on the half-shell…” Synchronicity.

  5. Stark Raven Says:

    You mentioned that you have more evidence to share in the future. I’m especially interested to learn more about Mary’s connection to this Venus figure.

  6. PluribusOne™ Says:

    Here are a couple big clues to the further material to be shared:

    Earlier, in 1477, Botticelli made a painting titled “Madonna of the Sea.” In that painting, Mary is holding a naked (newborn) baby Jesus. There is an eight-pointed star on her shawl and there is a ship at sea visible in the distance behind her. (See Image File #28.)

    Maris is the Latin word for “sea.” In Catholicism, the leading interpretation of the name Mary is “Star of the Sea,” and her role as “Our Lady, Star of the Sea” is linked to a Bible passage that refers to a little cloud that appears over the sea as a sign of hope related to freedom and renewal. The “Santa Maria” was the lead ship that traveled over the sea to the future “land of the free.”

    “Our Lady” is, of course, symbolic: a mask on Isis.

    Here’s an even more telling bit of evidence that the Templars knew of the New World, most likely had made the trip long before Columbus, and had plans for its conquest: When, in 1307, the surviving Knights Templar escaped from France in their ships, they traveled to Scotland and established a new base of operations. Rosslyn Chapel was built shortly afterwards, and, oddly, its design includes carvings of “maize.” Indian corn was not present anywhere in Europe at the time. So, how else could the Templars have known of it, and why else would they embed images of maize in the Chapel’s stonework more than a hundred years before Columbus set sail?

  7. Sara B. Says:

    I read somewhere that Botticelli caved-in to the Inquisition, that he became devout about the doctrines of the church and even burned some of his own paintings. What are your thoughts about that?

  8. PluribusOne™ Says:

    My study of Botticelli indicates that he DID consign some of his works to the flames of the Dominican Friar, Savonarola, who took control of Florence after Lorenzo de Medici’s death.

    My speculation is that Sandro had two reasons: one was to rise above suspicion by sacrificing some paintings, and the other was to sidestep the possibility of an effective interrogation. That way, no one could attempt to decode them or demand that he explain works that no longer existed.

    If the paintings were to become suspected of containing secrets, they could be seized and he would then be confronted with them and tortured. With the paintings up in smoke, that risk was eliminated. I think he was just burning evidence in a convenient bonfire and taking the opportunity to appear completely agreeable and compliant. That’s my theory.

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