|Click to see a much larger version of this painting.|
So it's time for some art appreciation.
Botticelli's La Primavera ("Spring") is one of my favorite paintings for several reasons - for one, it's very theatrical, with the cast arrayed within the setting like a stage, with the diva, Venus, in the center. Also there's the anticipation of action, with Cupid above, about to shoot somebody with a love arrow.
I also like the color composition. I have a copy of this painting in my apartment, although unfortunately the colors on the red end of the spectrum have faded (I guess it was a pretty cheap print) and so the whole thing has turned to blue, and only the drape of Mercury (the stud on the left) and Venus are at all reddish. However, it's not so bad - if this were a painting by Renoir it would be a disaster - his work is mostly about color, but Botticelli was big on line as much as color - so the print can still be appreciated for the grace of the line, which becomes more prominent with the greater color monotony.
Art historians are still not sure exactly what this painting is about, although the most popular is some kind of mythological allegory. As Wikipedia says:
I've been told I resemble one of the characters in this painting, but I won't say which one. One of the female ones though, fortunately.
Venus presides over the garden - an orange grove (a Medici symbol). She stands in front of the dark leaves of amyrtle bush. 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 Graces accompanying her (and targeted by Cupid) bear jewels in the colors of the Medici family, while Mercury'scaduceus keeps the garden safe from threatening clouds.
The basic identifications of characters is widely embraced, but other names are sometimes used for the females on the right. According toBotticelli (1901), the woman in the flowered dress is Primavera (a personification of Spring) whose companion is Flora. The male figure is generally accepted as Mercury but has been identified as Mars by Beth Harris and Steven Zucker of SmARThistory.