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My own art story based on my research on ‘La Primavera’ by Bottecelli, focusing on the symbolism and iconography of the master piece.
Botecelli’s ‘La Primavera’ – ‘Spring’, inspires mystery, through symbolism and iconography, remaining open to the interpretation of its allegory. Nine figures are portrayed and all female figures are pregnant. Primavera is a classicaly driven Renaissance painting, with Venus, the godess of love as the figure in the middle of the group. Cupid meaning love is above her with his arrow pointing at the dancing nymphs; the three graces.
Mercury, messenger of the gods has his back turned seeking forbidden fruit. In symbolic terms he is ‘out of the picture’ in the central theme of painting, which is creation.
The fertile meadow illustrates 170 flower species in an enchanted garden. The botanist flowers in the painting are symbolic of marriage and love. Roses and periwinckles link with marriage and orange blossom, in the orange grove is symbolic of sweet scent. The strawberries in Flora’s hair and wedding dress are symbols of sweet tast and the iris for transparency of petals. The secrets of human nature and creation are intertwined here in motion, symbolising regeneration. Movement is significant in the painting, captured in the implied motion of the hands and motion of fine drapery in the clothing.
Botecelli was inspired by the poetry of his time, a hundred years before Shakespear.
Florence was at the forefront of art, in this early Renaissance period. Botecelli took a risk with the subject of the Primevera. Florence took ancient Rome as a model but new sophisticated pagan art threw off the rules of religious art, such as the traditional depiction of the Virgin Mary and child.
Venus’ son is cupid, the three Graces are the first sensous figures for 1000 years. They are not women but nymphs and accompanying Venus’ beauty, shown in the painting as an enchanting beauty coming from within.
On the right the painting shows Zephyr, the winged god’s lust for a wood nymph and according to the classic tale he captures her and deflowers her. He takes Flora, the figure looking directly out, as his wife, after this act.
The Primavera was commissioned by Lorenzo di Pier-Francesco de Medici (newphew of Lorenzo the magnificent) for his daughter’s marriage and bridal chamber.
This Florence tradition of the period, in which the chamber of a newly married couple, held a depiction of a scene of the act of deflowering was to reasure the bride.
The painting would have been displayed in the bedroom, six feet off the ground so that it would be looked up at.
There is a physical weightlessness in the movement of the figures in the painting and also a gravity about it.
The key thinking or symbolic linking suggests the philosophy of Plato that love is impulse, which stimulates humanity, divine love desipheres the riddle.
The painting with its symbolic references, carries intellectual and aesthetic beauty, it is a beautiful painting.
Flora who draws us into the painting and who looks out boldly, appears a fusion of male and female. In a way, she has a knightly role to detract attention from the central Venus figure, who operates with divinity and is thus shielded.
La Primavera seems eternal and it reveals the complexities of Love. The subject of Love and the battle of the sexes remains a mystery, as does the Primavera. Venus’ motion is central in regeneration and creation and triggers other complex patterns of motion, which are all interlinked, her link is with divinity.
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My own art story based on my research on ‘La Primavera’ by Bottecelli, focusing on the symbolism and iconography of the renaissance master piece.
This master piece is particularly interesting because it broke with tradition but depicts classical figures, as well as170 flower species in an enchanted garden.