Andy Warhol’s print Sandro Botticelli, Birth Of Venus, 1482) (F. & S. II.319) adapts Quattrocento artist Sandro Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus (c. 1485-1486) to a twentieth-century medium. The original painting, now in the Uffizi gallery in Florence, depicts the Roman goddess of love and beauty emerging from the sea.Warhol has cropped the scene, reducing the frame to her face, neck, and billowing hair. The viewer is drawn to Venus’ eyes, which Warhol has highlighted with cerulean eyeliner matching the background. The pop artist’s use of cropping combined with a simplified, brightened colour palette bring this classical goddess into contemporary life.
Warhol’s series, Details of Renaissance Paintings, renders masterworks of Italian Renaissance artists like Paolo Uccello, Leonardo da Vinci, and Sandro Botticelli in the twentieth-century medium of screen printing. This particular image retains the Quattrocento master’s palette of peachy flesh and a blue background, but cools off the tones. After Warhol saw Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in 1963, Warhol began his first experimentation with Renaissance masters. Two decades later, he returned to the subject with the eyes of a mature artist, making bolder compositional choices with cropping and overdrawing. In reproducing and reinventing these masterpieces, Warhol placed himself in the canon of greats.