Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Art History 101-Sando Botticelli's Muse

Sando Botticelli (1 March 1445-17 May 1510)

Botticelli became a pupil of Fra Filipo Lippi as a young man. By age 15 he progressed to the point where he established his own studio-workshop and employed artists to  help  him complete commissions.

Botticelli,s famous mythalogical painting, Primavera.
"Primavera" c1482.
Uffizi, Florence 203x314cm Tempera on panel. (w)
 The picture celebrates the arrival of spring and is filled with mythological symbolism. Venus, Goddess of Love, is in the centre of an orange grove on her left Flora, Goddess of Flowers and Spring, appears clad in garlands of flowers. Next to Flora is the nymph Chloris, she is pursued by Zephyrus, God of Wind, who has a burning passion for her. The Roman poet Ovid describes Chloris as transforming into Flora, Goddess of Flowers, symbolizing the beginning of spring, and Botticelli has placed both figures side by side within the same painting.

On the right of Venus are The three Graces, female companions of the Love Goddess who perform their dance at the onset of spring. Next to the Graces stands Mercury, Messenger of the Gods, who inspects the orange grove and protects the garden from intruders.
Floating overhead at the center of the picture is Amor, the son of Venus, he is blindfolded as he shoots his arrows of love, their flaming tips certain to intensify the emotion of love in whoever they strike.
Flora, one of the three graces and Venus, all shown below, are thought by many scholars to be portraits of Botticelli's idolized Simonetta Vespucci. He also depicted her as Venus in The Birth of Venus.

Simonetta Vespucci was born Simonetta Cattaneo de Candia, in 1453 in the province of Geona. Her parents, Gaspare Cattaneo della Volta and Cattocchia Spinola de Candia were grand nobles of the area with very high connections. At the age of 16, Simonetta was married to Marco Vespucci, a Florentine student at the Banco di San Giorgio in Genoa and a distant relative of Amerigo Vespucci. Marco was desperately in love with the young Geonese beauty and his proposal was accepted due to his advantageous connections to the Medici Family in Florence.
Simonetta and Marco were married in 1469 in Florence, at the Medici’s palazzo in Via Larga and then the reception was held at the lavish di Careggi. Simonetta had won the favor of the Medicis immediately. Her beauty and grace soon mesmerized the whole of Florence, and caught the attention of more than one man.
Giuliano de Medici was perhaps her most notable suitor, and he had no qualms to declare his affection publicly. It is reported that at La Giostra (a jousting  tournament) in 1475, held at Piazza Santa Croce Giuliano entered the lists bearing a banner on which was a picture of Simonetta as a helmeted Pallas Atena painted by Botticelli himself, beneath which was the French inscription La Sans Pareille, meaning “The unparalleled one”.

Botticelli never married, he had no chance to court Simonetta for she was married to a very prominent man who was a close friend of the powerful Medici family. Nevertheless, Botticelli asked to be buried at her feet. She preceded him in death by over 30 years, but his final resting place is at her feet.

Simonetta Vespucci's Possible Depictions in Art

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