The Birth of Venus
Sandro Botticelli's 'Birth of Venus' is without a doubt one of the most famous paintings in the world. The painting depicts the birth of love: Venus, the naked Goddess of Love, emerges from a shell with servant Ora at her side. Venus shyly covers her modesty with her hand, while Ora is ready to cover her nakedness with a beautiful piece of cloth. Before creating his painting, Botticelli studied the famous marble sculpture Venus de Medici, on display elsewhere in the museum.
Caravaggio's drinking buddy
Bacchus and Caravaggio
Caravaggio had an intimate relationship with Bacchus, the god of wine, intoxication and drunkenness portrayed here. The painter was known for his fiery temperament and immodest lifestyle. In his revolutionary paintings Caravaggio liked to emphasize the humanity of his subjects. The portrait that he painted at the end of the 16th century hardly idealizes the god: he is depicted as a man with whom Caravaggio caroused in the pubs and brothels. The artist also deviated from the traditional norm by forgoing the usual landscape in the background.
The altarpiece Ognissanti Madonna is another example of a new approach. Giotto painted the piece circa 1310 and it marks a turning point in painting as the first time that a medieval painter used perspective. With this work, Giotto stood on the cusp of one of the biggest revolutions in art history. He is also regarded as the 'father' of the Renaissance because of this style of painting. The altarpiece depicts Mary, seated on a throne. The apparent depth in her clothing and throne makes her much more human – something unheard of in those days.