Botticelli's Venus and Mars models may have been high on dope

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London, May 27 (ANI): 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 thorn apple and 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 civilising power of love."

According to Bellingham, who spotted the detail while researching an academic 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 told The Times. "Botticelli does use plants symbolically. In the background are laurel [bushes], for example, which are a reference to his patrons, the Medicis. 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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