Emily Ratajkowski posted a nude photo on Instagram Saturday that probably struck a chord with art history majors.
The model, who rose to fame after appearing in the music video for "Blurred Lines" by Robin Thicke, is no stranger to nudity. She often poses semi-nude for various modeling projects, and is highly sought-after for her style and confidence.
Yet her latest Instagram post catapults her to a new level, as it mirrors one of the most famous nude paintings of all time — Sandro Boticelli's "The Birth of Venus."
Chances are you've seen "The Birth of Venus" somewhere before. It depicts the Roman goddess of love and beauty emerging from a seashell, modestly covering herself with her hands and hair, just like Ratajkowski. While Venus stands on the shore in Boticelli's painting, Ratajkowski stands right in the midst of a sprawling, mountainous landscape, surrounded by greenery.
Ratajkowski's caption simply reads "Birth of Venus," suggesting that's the title of the shot. She also listed photographer Mona Kuhn, and editor Laura Brown, who presumably worked on the shoot with her.
It makes sense that Ratajkowski would reference Boticelli's Venus in the model's work. In the painting, Venus stands alone, as figures rush in from either side to cover or control her. Ratajkowski's trajectory has been similar, as she's maintained a rare sort of autonomy for a model, garnering respect for the thoughtful way she approaches projects.
It's also no mistake that the photo named after the love goddess was posted to Ratajkowski's Instagram, like it were any other selfie. Ratajkowski loves to interact directly with fans through social media, and sees the new trend of taking selfies as an empowering development for women and models.
“A selfie is a sort of interesting way to reclaim the gaze, right?” she said in a 2016 interview with Harper’s Bazaar. “You're looking at yourself and taking a photo while looking at everyone.”
“When I post a selfie and someone comments: ‘Oh, sure, go ahead and reclaim your sexuality, I got my rocks off,’ that's not my problem,” she added. “Social media is something women didn't have 10 years ago, and that's a big aspect in feminism today. I don't have to be filtered by anyone. I choose.”