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The Birth of Venus (French: Naissance de Venus) is a painting by the French artist Alexandre Cabanel (1823–1889). It was painted in 1863, and is now in the Musée d'Orsaymarker in Parismarker. A second, slightly smaller version dates from 1875; it is in the Metropolitan Museum of Artmarker in New York Citymarker.

Shown to great success at the Paris Salon of 1863, The Birth of Venus was immediately purchased by Napoleon III for his own personal collection. That same year Cabanel was made a professor of the Ecole des Beaux-Artsmarker.

Cabanel's erotic imagery, cloaked in historicism, appealed to the propriety of the higher levels of society. Cabanel was a determined opponent of the Impressionists, especially Édouard Manet, although the refusal of the academic establishment to realize the importance of new ideas and sources of inspiration would eventually prove to be the undoing of the Academy.

See also


  • Rosenblum, Robert (1989). Paintings in the Musée d'Orsay. New York: Stewart, Tabori & Chang. ISBN 1-55670-099-7

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