Sandro Botticelli's The Birth of Venus , 1480.


In regard to Venus herself, Anatomy: abdominals, elbows, kneecaps, shoulder socket, eye sockets. Biologically correct? Yes, to a degree. Proportion: shoulders narrow, torso long (low waisted), hands and feet chubby and small. Biologically correct? Compare the two arms. Follow the length of her right arm from shoulder to elbow to wrist.

Now follow her left arm from shoulder to elbow to wrist. Her left arm is horribly disfigured. Mass: hills and valleys are well represented, especially the subtle light and shadow which define her abdominals. Nude? Definitely. Besides the manipulation of her body into a higher ideal, her complexion is perfect (milky white with no moles, warts, wrinkles, burns or discolorations), golden hair very long, and posture exceptionally graceful (S-curve). As this painting was created in the same time period as Tintoretto’s Leda and the Swan, it shares many of the same characteristics defining the ideal female body – the soft skin, elongated limbs, and graceful arcing limbs.