The Birth of Venus

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The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus, 1954
Oil on canvas, 125 cm x 85 cm

According to the ancient Greek poet Hesiod, the Greek goddess of love, Aphrodite (known to the Romans as Venus), was born after the Titan Cronus had taken a stone sickle and cut off the genitals of his father, the sky, Uranus: 'And so soon as he had cut off the members with flint and cast them from the land into the surging sea, they were swept away over the main a long time: and a white foam spread around them from the immortal flesh, and in it there grew a maiden. First she drew near holy Cythera, and from there, afterwards, she came to sea-girt Cyprus, and came forth an awful and lovely goddess, and grass grew up about her beneath her shapely feet. Her gods and men call Aphrodite . . . And with her went Eros, and comely Desire followed her at her birth at the first and as she went into the assembly of the gods . . . and this is the portion allotted to her amongst men and undying gods, – the whisperings of maidens and smiles and deceits with sweet delight and love and graciousness' (Theogony ll. 189–205, tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914).
For more information on this picture, see here.
PROVENANCE: Purchased from the artist by Ernest Cooper > Sotheby's 2 May 1990 (£77,277) > ? > Sotheby's 19 June 1996 (£34,000) > Sir Peter and Lady Osborne > Christie's 10 July 2013 (£85,875)
EXHIBITION HISTORY: Royal Academy 1955, Tate Gallery 1965, Worthing 1972
The image of the dangling fish was used in a similar way in Tropical Sea 1943–4.

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