B1 Intermediate UK 160 Folder Collection
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Hello, we're looking at Sandro Botticelli's 'Venus and Mars', which is one of
my favourite paintings in the collection, because it's so full of irreverent and naughty fun.
Here we have on the left hand-side Venus, who is lying, looking very awake and alert.
She is wearing a fantastic, beautiful gown with gold trim.
And she is looking over this side at Mars, who is fast asleep, he is completely worn out;
and if we didn't get that, this little boy is blowing a shell in his ear, and that's
not waking him up, and on top of that there are wasps buzzing around his head,
and that's not waking him up either.
They are lovers, and Botticelli has chosen this scene to show them
when they are after the act of love,
and he is absolutely worn out.
They are having an affair.
Venus is married to Mars's brother Vulcan, the God of the Underworld,
and this particular moment, although not from any particular text, shows them being lovers.
Behind them are these wonderful little boys with hairy legs: satyrs.
They are playing with Mars's armour, so he is literally un-manned.
He is literally turned from this violent God of War into this prone, useless figure.
And I particularly love this little boy here climbing through Mars's breastplate
with this wonderful naughty look on his face.
Isn't it fantastic?
Botticelli is clearly talking about the sexual element of love,
and the sexual element of relationships.
He is not I think saying that women are better than men, what he is trying
to talk about is the nature of the relationship between men and women.
He is also relating it to a wider cosmic idea of our place in the world.
If we look into the sky, we look at the stars, Venus is always triumphant over Mars.
And one of the things Botticelli is trying to say is if we understand our place in the world,
we understand how to be happy people, and how to be better off.
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Venus and Mars Painted Lovers | National Gallery

160 Folder Collection
Rongxi Ma published on October 23, 2017
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