Over the centuries, scholars and art historians have written extensively about Sandro Botticelli's Primavera. And while there are many different interpretations of this magnificent painting, there is one version that is widely accepted - the work represents a mythological version of the coming of Spring. Even the title of the painting (Primavera means Spring in Italian) reflects this view. In addition, there is much in the piece itself to support this theory.
One of the most striking visual aspects of the Primavera is the beautiful garden setting. The garden, with its glorious profusion of flowers, establishes the season. However, this garden setting also becomes the stage for a drama - and this drama involves some interesting players from Classical mythology.
The garden itself represents the Garden of Venus. In Classical myth, Venus is the goddess of love and beauty. The goddess is literally center stage, and the activity revolves around her. On her right, there is a trio of figures. This group is identified as Zephyrus, Chloris, and Flora. Zephyrus, who is the god of the wind, grasps the fleeing nymph Chloris. As a result, Chloris is transformed into Flora, the goddess of Spring and flowers. Flora is the embodiment of abundant nature, and her dress is covered with the floral symbols of her role (see detail above).
To the left of Venus, we see another group, which consists of the Graces and the god Mercury. The Graces dance together, celebrating Spring, while Mercury banishes the clouds from the garden. Finally, near the top of the work, hovering above the head of Venus, is the winged Cupid, aiming an arrow of love at an unsuspecting Grace.
History of Italian Renaissance Art
In this impressive book, Professor Frederick Hartt examines the architecture, sculpture, and painting of the Italian Renaissance. First, the roots of the Renaissance are explored, then the Quattrocento and Cinquecento are revealed in this masterful work. In addition, there is an excellent description of Botticelli's Primavera, complete with interpretations of the painting and a discussion of possible symbolic meanings.
The Art Book
This book is sure to enhance any art lover's library. Color images grace the pages, and every picture is accompanied by a concise description of each featured work and artist.