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The birth of Venus

Alexandre Cabanel. 1863

The Birth of Venus by Alexandre Cabanel is the perfect example of what the Academy of Arts of Paris considered a masterpiece. The public of the time acclaimed it in the Salon of 1863, and Napoleon III himself acquired it for his personal collection.

Cabanel's exquisite technique and mythological motif follow the spirit of a classical painting of the 18th century. The birth of Venus serves as a framework to show the naked female figure, without causing scandal among those who observe it. The mythological subjects were approached widely by the painters of the time, and the idealized nudes and devoid of eroticism by their protagonists were celebrated.

This classic style of representation began to have detractors, including the famous writer Emile Zola who referred to the successful work in the following terms: "The goddess, drowned in a river of milk, looks like a delicious harlot, not in flesh and bone - this would seem indecent - but in a kind of white and pink marzipan. "What we see here is a woman made of porcelain, without veins, languid but beautiful.