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The beauty of Spring

by Marcello Parmeggiani last modified 2008-06-20 15:14

Would you buy a painting from someone called Sandro Filipepi? What if you weren't even sure what it meant? If your answer is (understandably) no, then you've just turned down Botticelli's masterpiece Primavera.

Botticelli's masterpiece.Flat, almost two-dimensional and all that odd mixture of seemingly unconnected figures . . . Botticelli's ÎPrimavera' (aka ÎThe Allegory of Spring') mustn't have made much of an impression on Duke Cosimo de' Medici who commissioned it in 1478. Litle did he know . . .

Budding young artist Sandro Filipepi had just finished his apprenticeship with Andrea (Verrocchio) and Leonardo (Da Vinci) and was determined (as only Italians can be) to leave his mark on the Florence art scene of the time. And leave it he did when he painted Primavera at the age of 33, ignoring many of 'latest trends' including one that was there to stay - perspective.
Volumes have been written about the actual subject of Botticelli's (the nickname "little barrel" was either inherited from his elder brother or the goldsmith to whom he was frst apprenticed) painting. Many say it is a celebration of neoplatonism. Others argue that it is a veiled metaphor of his patron's, the minor poet Lorenzo dei Medici, blossoming as an artist. While some say it is a visual rendition of Apuleius' classic fable of the Golden Ass. Or maybe it was just a (helluva successful) exercise in painting. Answers on a postcard please . . .

When Botticelli was chosen, amng other artists, to paint the walls of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican he left behind all these unanswered questions along with the sublime beauty of the painting itself. His image of Spring is chaste, yet possibly pregnant. Her left arm is put of proportion and her shoulders rounded. Yet the detail of the painting - from the flowers, to the fruit and the pale light shining through the trees -leave no doubt that indeed we are in the presence of Spring. Find out for yourselves as the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

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