Knocked out by the Venus

Birth of Venus effect

He was admiring The Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli, one of the best-known masterpieces of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, when he had a cardiac arrest and suddenly collapsed on the floor. This happened yesterday, Saturday 15 December, to a 70-year-old tourist from the Florentine province, visiting the museum with his family. The pensioner was saved thanks to the timely intervention of four Roman doctors who were visiting the gallery too, and were able to use the defibrillator in the hall.

The man is now out of danger but, according to the director of the gallery, Eike Schmidt, it seems he’s just one of several similar cases in front of some of the gallery’s “heavyweights” as the Medusa by Caravaggio. Mr. Schmidt made also sure to specify that it is not within his competence to make medical diagnoses as the possibility of a Stendhal’s syndrome attack.

Another ecstatic moment inspired by the Venus dates back to March 2014, starring Adrián Pino Olivera, a Spanish performer from Barcelona. He entered the Gallery and stripped naked before the Venus, prostrated in front of the painting and threw rose petals with his hand tinged with red, color — blood, passion — that in his later poetic actions is still carrying symbolism. He later explained that the clothes he worn represented the western world, the red hand was, instead, the symbol of the wild, of the non-civilized, “Every human being has this dual identity,” while the petals wanted to be a tribute to femininity, to the woman represented by Venus. “From the women rises the energy of the world and of life, we must respect them. They are superior beings,” said Adrián.

“I was in a sort of ecstasy, from the idea of being in Florence, close to the great men whose tombs I had seen. Absorbed in the contemplation of sublime beauty… I reached the point where one encounters celestial sensations… Everything spoke so vividly to my soul. Ah, if I could only forget. I had palpitations of the heart, what in Berlin they call ‘nerves.’ Life was drained from me. I walked with the fear of falling.”

Stendhal, Naples and Florence: A Journey from Milan to Reggio


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