Botticelli at the MFA

Yesterday J and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine,” a small but impressive exhibit of paintings from Renaissance Florence.

Botticelli at the MFA

The highlight of “The Search for the Divine” is Botticelli’s Venus, a life-size painting of the goddess of love. Whereas Botticelli’s earlier, more well-known Birth of Venus depicts the goddess arising from a shell attended by mythological figures, the painting currently on view at the MFA is deceptively simple. Set against a plain black background, Venus gleams like a diamond set on velvet, her skin glowing and flawless, her limbs long and languid, and her hair snaking free from an elaborate tangle of braids and curls.

Botticelli at the MFA

Equally impressive is a large crucifix painted on a cut-out wood panel, as if to be carried in procession. Looking at this crucifix, I was struck by the physical similarities between Botticelli’s Jesus and Venus. Both figures are idealized, nearly nude figures almost entirely free from blemish, and both exude an air of restful power and athletic grace.

Admiring Venus

Venus and Jesus both represent the best of human nature embodied: two complementary answers to the question of what love looks like in the flesh. Venus represents carnal love and Jesus represents spiritual love, but both are beautiful, flawless beings because they represent love’s transformative power. Viewed through the lens of love, all is perfect and well-formed.

Inside ice-crusted car, looking out

Venus glimmers high in the east; the full moon looms low in the west. There are few pedestrians afoot, but the dog and I don’t walk alone.

This is my Day Twenty submission to a river of stones, a month-long challenge to notice (and record) one thing every day. I’ll be posting my “stones” both here and on Twitter, where submissions are tagged as #aros. Enjoy!

Conjunction junction, what's your function?

Tonight after coming home from Keene State, where I’d reviewed with my first-year writing students the rules regarding commas and conjunctions, I took Reggie for a walk and saw, again, the cosmic conjunction of the Moon, Venus, and Jupiter Leslee had seen, photographed, and blogged last night, this time hovering over the rotary junction of Main, Marlboro, and Winchester Streets.

Last night when I saw two planets nestled near the Moon, I didn’t know their names or how rare an event it was, nor did I think to snap a photo. Tonight, you can still imagine this cosmic alignment as resembling a sideways frown, but already its face is starting to droop and sag, and faces will with age. Conjunction junction, what’s your function, indeed.