Part I: First Age
PLATE I.—THE BIRTH OF VENUS. From the tempera on canvas in the Uffizi. (Frontispiece)
This picture is generally regarded as the supreme achievement of Botticelli's genius. It was probably painted about 1485, after his return from Rome.
The canvas measures 5 ft 8 in. by 9 ft 1 in., so that the figures are nearly life size. No reproduction can do justice to the exquisite delicacy of expression in the original. Something of the same quality will be found in the "Mars and Venus" in the National Gallery, which was probably painted about the same time. The two figures on the left are usually described as Zephyrus and Zephyritis, representing the south and south-west winds: that on the right may be one of the Hours of Homer's Hymn, or possibly the Spring.