Saturday, May 29, 2010

Are Botticelli’s Venus and Mars high on drugs?

London: Regarded as a story of the all-conquering power of love, a scene of pastoral bliss by Botticelli is actually an illustration of the potency of hallucinogenic drugs, claims a new study.

According to experts, a fruit held by a satyr in the bottom right of the painting belongs to Datura stramonium, a plant with a history of sending people mad and making them want to bare all.
Until David Bellingham, a programme director at Sotheby’s Institute of Art, the fruit was overlooked by art historians. David showed it to experts at Kew Gardens, where they have a specimen of the plant, which is also known as Devil’s trumpet.
The National Gallery description of the painting notes: “The scene is of an adulterous liaison, as Venus was the wife of Vulcan, the God of Fire, but it contains a moral message: the conquering and civilizing power of love.”
According to Bellingham, who spotted the detail while researching on a study of Venus in art, Botticelli’s message is more subversive. “This fruit is being offered to the viewer, so it is meant to be significant,” he said. “Botticelli does use plants symbolically. Datura is known in America as poor man’s acid, and the symptoms of it seem to be there in the male figure. It makes you feel disinhibited and hot, so it makes you want to take your clothes off. It also makes you swoon.” ANI

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