Venus was the Roman goddess of love, beauty and fertility. She is often the subject of reclining nudes, (many artistic movements only accepted nude images of women if they could be identified as Venus). However there are also many images depicting her emergence from a seashell, often titled either The Birth of Venus or Venus Anadyomene (‘Venus rising from the sea’). My favourite painting of all time is Botticelli’s version below. I love everything about it, especially the way she is blown on shore by Zephyrus, the god of wind, and Aura, a representation of breeze. The figure on the far right is one of the Horae, a goddess of the seasons, who welcomes the nude Venus onto the seashore. The myrtle trees in the background represent motherhood, marriage and lust, all attributes to Venus’ goddess nature.
Top to bottom: The Birth of Venus by Alessandro Botticelli, c.1486; The Birth of Venus by William-Adolphe Bouguereau, 1879; Venus Anadyomene by Theodore Chasseriau, 1838; The Birth of Venus by Alexandre Cabanel, 1863; Venus Anadyomene by Titian, c.1525