Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. They day before I left Florence, I sat in front of this painting and stared for a good two hours, reflecting on the year and a half I had spent in Florence. Some day, I will live there again.
Sandro Boticelli's "The Birth of Venus", 1486, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Most paintings of women during the middle Ages symbolize the Virgin Mary, showing her in a demure appearance with an angelic smile and covered head. So Botticelli's depiction of a beautiful goddess, not only an obvious symbol of pagan mythology but also painted as a nude was groundbreaking.
APHRODITE / VENUS Goddess of love, desire and beauty. There are two accounts of her birth. One says she is the daughter of Zeus and Dione. The other that when Kronus castrated Uranus, tossing his severed genitals into the sea, she arose on a giant scallop and walked to shore in Cyprus. Zeus married her to Hephaestus to control the other gods jealousy. Aphrodite later was both Adonis' lover and his surrogate mother. Myrtles, doves, sparrows, horses, and swans are sacred to her. (Thx Ra)