The Birth of Venus (Pip Starr Version)

(Last Updated On May 31, 2022)

There are a number of themes that many classical painters tackled such that they nearly became traditional in art, and they largely fell into two central categories: religious themes such as the Virgin and Child, the Annunciation, the Crucifixion and the Temptation of St. Anthony, and mythological themes such as the Judgment of Paris, the Rape of Europa and of course, the Birth of Venus. I have decided to do my own take on several of these traditional  themes, starting with this one. Naturally, my pieces will be rather loose interpretations and will include primarily children in the roles of classical or biblical figures à la the film Angyali üdvözlet

In my somewhat surrealistic version of The Birth of Venus, our goddess is about ten or eleven years old, and she emerges not from the sea but from a bathtub full of wine which she herself is pouring. The idea here is that Venus is not literally being born, but rather this girl is becoming Venus by vinous baptism (get it?)  In fact, Venus was initially a goddess of fertility and was associated with vineyards, so the wine is appropriate here, though in our modern Western society children cannot legally drink it. Thus, there is a hint of illicitness here. Shells are also a common symbol of Venus, and our young goddess wears one around her neck, as well as there being a large one on the side of the bathtub. Venus is also surrounded by putti, as is often the case in paintings of her.

This entire scene takes place amidst ancient ruins, telling us that Venus is one of the old gods, though this is contradicted by the girl’s youth. Venus shall remain eternally young, and to my way of thinking, she should not be embodied by a single figure but rather is reborn whenever a young girl develops her first hints of womanhood. To be sure, I blatantly stole this idea from Moebius. This image differs slightly from my usual pen & ink pieces in that I deliberately gave it a foreground, middle ground and background whereas usually I’m quite content with just foreground and middle ground or foreground and background. This gives the composition more depth and richness, I think, and as a result this is one of the more successful drawings I’ve ever completed.

As is usually the case, this piece, which is 11″x14″, is for sale. If you’re interested, contact me at [email protected]

Edit: Sold! Thank you very much.

Pip Starr – The Birth of Venus (2017)

6 thoughts on “The Birth of Venus (Pip Starr Version)

  1. Very nice work, Pip. I really like the composition. I have been thinking myself of making my own interpretations into classic artworks and mythology, but I haven’t find the time for them, but they are always in my head.

    Your approach is lovely. I hope I can work again with the site sometime soon.

    • Thanks! Do you mean here or in general? If you’ll look closely, you’ll note that my putti aren’t actually gender neutral. The one in the upper left-hand corner (and farthest from the picture plane) is male. I tried to casually suggest that the one in the foreground is female by the length of the hair, though in real terms it doesn’t mean anything. With the exception of the one already mentioned whose boy parts are visible, you can assign whatever gender you like to the others. In general terms there is much to be said about the fact that most putti/cherubs are either male or gender-neutral in classical art up to a certain point, and I don’t have the time to go into it here. Suffice it to say, it had much to do with the fact that for many centuries female genitalia in general, whether on a child or an adult, was pretty much verboten either outright or through some unspoken rules of art or social mores. The distinction is a bit nebulous. At some point I may devote a whole post to this issue. It is an interesting topic, no?

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