Botticelli’s ‘Venus and Mars’ at the National Gallery of London with Dr. Irene Mariani

Botticelli’s ‘Venus and Mars’ at the National Gallery of London with Dr. Irene Mariani


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A sleeping god, three cheeky satyrs, and a bride-like goddess. What is the meaning of this unusual painting, why was it commissioned, and how was it originally displayed?

The cryptic meaning and unusual composition of Botticelli’s Venus and Mars, on display at the National Gallery of London, have fascinated generations of art lovers and gallery-goers. Set in an idyllic landscape, it features Venus, goddess of love, a sleeping Mars, the god of war, and three cheeky, playful satyrs. Just like other mythological masterpieces painted by Sandro Botticelli in Renaissance Florence, many fascinating questions still surround Venus and Mars: what is the meaning of the painting, where was it originally displayed, why was it commissioned, and by who?

Looking at paintings, material culture, and family patronage during the Medici time, this seminar will offer a 360-degree analysis of Botticelli’s Venus and Mars. We will start by drawing parallels between the fine details of the painting and Renaissance material culture: this will permit us to identify a wide range of symbols connected to marriage and conjugal love. We will see how Venus and Mars was likely commissioned for the wedding of a young couple, and consider how the painting would have been displayed in a fifteenth-century domestic setting. The wasps hoovering around Mars’ head, moreover, will provide a hint about the identity of the patron.

Led by an expert on Florentine Renaissance Art, Dr. Irene Mariani, this interactive seminar will explore the meaning, function, and display of Botticelli’s ‘Venus and Mars’ in the artistic and social context of fifteenth-century Florence. Designed to inform curiosity as well as future travels, participants will come away with an increased understanding of one of Botticelli's most intriguing paintings.

Irene specialised in Italian Renaissance Art and her doctoral thesis looked at the artistic patronage of the Vespucci family in fifteenth-century Florence. She was an intern at the Queen’s Gallery at the Palace of Holyroodhouse and collaborated with the Education Department of the National Galleries of Scotland. Irene currently teaches History of Art at the University of Edinburgh. Edinburgh stole her heart and it is now her second home.

This conversation is suitable for all ages.

90 minutes, including a 30 minute Q&A.

Customer Reviews

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K
Kris Shapar (Stuttgart, DE)
Interesting thesis, well presented

Guest did not leave comment

J
Jo (Busto Arsizio, IT)

really very interesting

P
Paul Rivard (Québec, CA)
A detective story

A very compelling case, very well researched! Mystery solved!

Customer Reviews

Based on 3 reviews
100%
(3)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
0%
(0)
K
Kris Shapar (Stuttgart, DE)
Interesting thesis, well presented

Guest did not leave comment

J
Jo (Busto Arsizio, IT)

really very interesting

P
Paul Rivard (Québec, CA)
A detective story

A very compelling case, very well researched! Mystery solved!