The Birth of Venus, 1875
Alexandre Cabanel (French, 1823–1889)
Oil on canvas
Cabanel’s Birth of Venus (Musée d’Orsay, Paris) created a sensation at the Salon of 1863, which was known as the “Salon of the Venuses” because several paintings of the goddess were exhibited. This painting embodies the ideals of academic art in its careful modeling, polished surface finish, and mythological subject. Cabanel’s picture established his reputation, and it was purchased by Napoleon III for his personal collection. In 1875, the American banker John Wolfe commissioned the present canvas, one of numerous replicas Cabanel made after the original.