Sandro Botticelli, Birth Of Venus, 1482) (F. & S. II.317) draws from Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (c. 1485-1486), which was commissioned by Lorenzo de’Medici and now hangs in the Uffizi gallery in Florence. This monumental canvas depicting Venus emerging from the sea is one of the leading Renaissance painter’s most known works. Warhol has cropped Venus’ body and the sea from which she emerges to frame only her face. He has simplified the colour palette to plum and orange, removing any remaining context of the original scene.
Warhol’s Details of Renaissance Paintings series draws from the masterworks of Italian Renaissance artists. Towards the end of his life, the Pop artist returned to these old masters and pulled them into his twentieth-century idea of celebrity. Here, Botticelli has adapted the Roman goddess Venus into the role of celebrity. Venus becomes reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe with her cropped, repeated “headshot” and simplified print format. In applying his iconic style to the paintings of old masters, Warhol has placed himself into the canon of great artists.