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Primavera

Sandro Botticelli

Primavera

Sandro Botticelli
  • Date: 1478; Florence, Italy 
  • Style: Early Renaissance
  • Genre: allegorical painting
  • Media: panel, tempera
  • Tag: allegories-and-symbols, spring
  • Dimensions: 314 x 203 cm
  • Order reproduction

Also known as The Allegory of Spring, this painting is considered one of the most popular paintings in all the world of art. It is also the most written about, and has raised much controversy. Most art historians agree that the painting depicts a group of mythological figures cavorting in a lush garden is al allegory for spring. But other believe that it s more than simple illustration, and that it contains a representation of the ideal of Neoplatonic love. The commission for this painting most probably came from the Medici family, and was possibly inspired by a poem by Poliziano.

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Primavera (Italian pronunciation: [primaˈveːra], meaning "Spring"), is a large panel painting in tempera paint by the Italian Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli made in the late 1470s or early 1480s (datings vary). It has been described as "one of the most written about, and most controversial paintings in the world", and also "one of the most popular paintings in Western art".

The painting depicts a group of figures from classical mythology in a garden, but no story has been found that brings this particular group together. Most critics agree that the painting is an allegory based on the lush growth of Spring, but accounts of any precise meaning vary, though many involve the Renaissance Neoplatonism which then fascinated intellectual circles in Florence. The subject was first described as Primavera by the art historian Giorgio Vasari who saw it at Villa Castello, just outside Florence, by 1550.

Although the two are now known not to be a pair, the painting is inevitably discussed with Botticelli's other very large mythological painting, The Birth of Venus, also in the Uffizi. They are among the most famous paintings in the world, and icons of the Italian Renaissance; of the two, the Birth is even better known than the Primavera. As depictions of subjects from classical mythology on a very large scale they were virtually unprecedented in Western art since classical antiquity. It used to be thought that they were both commissioned by the same member of the Medici family, but this is now uncertain.

The history of the painting is not certainly known, though it seems to have been commissioned by one of the Medici family. It draws from a number of classical and Renaissance literary sources, including the works of the Ancient Roman poet Ovid and, less certainly, Lucretius, and may also allude to a poem by Poliziano, the Medici house poet who may have helped Botticelli devise the composition. Since 1919 the painting has been part of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

The painting features six female figures and two male, along with a cupid, in an orange grove. The movement of the composition is from right to left, so following that direction the standard identification of the figures is: at far right "Zephyrus, the biting wind of March, kidnaps and possesses the nymph Chloris, whom he later marries and transforms into a deity; she becomes the goddess of Spring, eternal bearer of life, and is scattering roses on the ground." Chloris the nymph overlaps Flora, the goddess she transforms into.

In the centre (but not exactly so) and somewhat set back from the other figures stands Venus, a red-draped woman in blue. Like the flower-gatherer, she returns the viewer's gaze. The trees behind her form a broken arch to draw the eye. In the air above her a blindfolded Cupid aims his bow to the left. On the left of the painting the Three Graces, a group of three females also in diaphanous white, join hands in a dance. At the extreme left Mercury, clothed in red with a sword and a helmet, raises his caduceus or wooden rod towards some wispy gray clouds.

This is a part of the Wikipedia article used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Sharealike 3.0 Unported License (CC-BY-SA). The full text of the article is here →


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