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Structured data. Captions English Add a one-line explanation of what this file represents. Flora, goddess of flowers.

The game-changing message hidden in Botticelli’s Primavera

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Botticelli, Primavera

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 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.

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. 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. The interactions between the figures are enigmatic. Zephyrus and Chloris are looking at each other.

7 Things You Didn't Know About Primavera by Botticelli - - Art History Stories

Flora and Venus look out at the viewer, the Cupid is blindfolded, and Mercury has turned his back on the others, and looks up at the clouds. The central Grace looks towards him, while the other two seem to look at each other. Flora's smile was very unusual in painting at this date. The pastoral scenery is elaborate. There are identified plant species depicted in the painting, with about different flowers, [11] of which at least can be specifically identified.

These tapestries had not caught up by the s with the artistic developments of the Italian Renaissance, and the composition of the painting has aspects that belong to this still Gothic style. The figures are spread in a rough line across the front of the picture space, "set side by side like pearls on a string".

The feet of Venus are considerably higher than those of the others, showing she is behind them, but she is at the same scale, if not larger, than the other figures. Overlapping of other figures by Mercury's sword and Chloris' hands shows that they stand slightly in front of the left Grace and Flora respectively, which might not be obvious otherwise, for example from their feet. It has been argued that the flowers do not grow smaller to the rear of the picture space, certainly a feature of the millefleur tapestries.

Various interpretations of the figures have been set forth, [17] but it is generally agreed that at least at one level the painting is "an elaborate mythological allegory of the burgeoning fertility of the world. Poliziano is usually thought to have been involved in this, [18] though Marsilio Ficino , another member of Lorenzo de' Medici's circle and a key figure in Renaissance Neoplatonism, has also often been mentioned.

One aspect of the painting is a depiction of the progress of the season of spring, reading from right to left. The wind of early Spring blows on the land and brings forth growth and flowers, presided over by Venus, goddess of April, with at the left Mercury, the god of the month of May in an early Roman calendar, chasing away the last clouds before summer. A passage in Virgil 's Aeneid describes him clearing the skies with his caduceus.

Venus presides over the garden — an orange grove a Medici symbol. It is also the Garden of the Hesperides of classical myth, from which the golden apples used in the Judgement of Paris came; the Hellenistic Greeks had decided that these were citrus fruits, exotic to them.

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According to Hesiod , Venus had been born of the sea after the semen of Uranus had fallen upon the waters. Coming ashore in a shell she had clothed her nakedness in myrtle, and so the plant became sacred to her. The Three Graces are sisters, and traditionally accompany Venus. In classical art but not literature they are normally nude, and typically stand still as they hold hands, but the depiction here is very close to one adapting Seneca by Leon Battista Alberti in his De pictura , which Botticelli certainly knew.

Nothing is more gracious, in lyrical beauty, than Botticelli's mythological paintings Primavera and The Birth of Venus, where the pagan story is taken with reverent seriousness and Venus is the Virgin Mary in another form. But it is also significant that no-one has ever agreed on the actual subject of Primavera, and a whole shelf in a library can be taken up with different theories; but though scholars may argue, we need no theories to make Primavera dear to us.

In this allegory of life, beauty, and knowledge united by love, Botticelli catches the freshness of an early spring morning, with the pale light shining through the tall, straight trees, already laden with their golden fruit: oranges, or the mythical Golden Apples of the Hesperides? Famous in the world, this masterpiece -- painted for the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici at Castello - marks the artistic prestige of Botticelli, reflecting with philosophical and literary themes, the cultural background of humanistic cercle of Lorenzo dei Medici.

The painting is an allegory of Spring, with mytological figures identified as right to left : Zephyr running after the nymph Clori, who transforms herself into Flora, goddess of Fecundity; in the center is Venus, goddess of Love and here represented as queen of her realm, with Cupid straining a dart to the three Graces, while Mercury raises the caduceo to the clouds.