Primavera

(c. 1482; Florence, Uffizi)
   A mythological painting created by Sandro Botticelli for the Medici family. The work was commissioned on the occasion of the wedding of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, Lorenzo "the Magnificent's" cousin, to Semiramide d'Appiani. Appropriately, Venus, the goddess of love, stands in the center with Cupid hovering above her. To the right is Zephirus, the west wind, about to ravage the nymph Chloris who is rewarded for his transgression with marriage and her transformation into Flora, the goddess of flowers. To the left are the Graces, Venus' attendants, and Mercury, god of commerce, a reference to the Medici's banking activities. The orange grove in the back-ground is a common feature in works commissioned by the Medici as the oranges recall their heraldic palle (balls). The meaning of the painting has not been fully deciphered. Some scholars have interpreted it along the lines of Neoplatonism, a philosophy of great interest in the Medici court thanks to the presence of Marsilio Ficino, who revived Platonic thought and established the Platonic Academy in Florence. Others relate it to ancient and contemporary literature, and particularly the work of the poet Angelo Poliziano who also belonged to the Medici circle. A third school of thought considers the work in the context of marriage, viewing the image as admonition to the bride on the importance of chastity, submission to her husband's family, and procreation (Venus and Flora in the painting are pregnant). In this work, Botticelli purposely rejected a construction of space in perspective and a rendition of accurate anatomies, favoring instead a stylized depiction of the human form. His figures gracefully prance in the flowered grove in a manner that is aesthetically pleasing but optically inaccurate. The liberties Botticelli took have resulted in a lyrical representation of the mythic scene.

Historical dictionary of Renaissance art. . 2008.

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