The William Roberts Society
The Birth of Venus
Copyrighted material on this page is included as 'fair use', for the purpose of study, review or critical analysis only, and will be removed at the request of the copyright owner. Catalogue information based on the catalogue raisonné by David Cleall. For this and full details of the exhibitions cited, see the links below.
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. 189205, tr. Hugh G. Evelyn-White, 1914).
PROVENANCE: Purchased from the artist by Ernest Cooper > Sotheby's 2 May 1990 (£75,000) > ? > Sotheby's 19 June 1996 (£34,000) > Sir Peter and Lady Osborne
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 19434.
Home page | Chronology | Obituaries | Bibliography | Collections
Exhibitions | Gallery | News | Contact | The artist's house
List of works illustrated on the site
chronological | alphabetical