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The renaissance was a time of wonderful art, though one artist in particular stood out, that was Sandro Botticelli. This man created some of the most renowned pieces of art in European history; one great painting was Allegory of Spring. This mythological artwork was an amazing change from the normalcy of past times. Botticellis Allegory of Spring, painted in 1482, is one of the most remarkable and astounding pieces of renaissance art with the wondrous symbols, style, story of the piece and also the intriguing history of Botticelli himself.
Botticelli is considered one of the greatest artists of the Renaissance; one of is finest works was Allegory of Spring. Botticelli, originally named Alessandro di Mariano Filiapepi, was born in Florence, Italy in 1445. He was nicknamed “Botticelli”; meaning little barrel, this name was originally bestowed upon his older brother but for some reason passed on to and adopted by his little brother (4:68). He was first an apprentice to a goldsmith, though at about age thirteen or fourteen he stopped training and traded to painting. He was an apprentice to Filippo Lippi. This mans style formed many of Botticellis early works.
Botticelli also worked with painter and engraver Antonio del Pollaiuolo. Botticelli had his own workshop by 1470; there he spent most of his life working for many great families in Florence at the time, especially the Medici family. As one of the artist in the court of Lorenzo de Medici, he was immensely influenced by its Christian Neoplatonism (5:7). With this in mind he tried to reconcile classical and Christian views. Though working for himself a lot he was also commissioned by many others. He joined Perugino, Ghirlandaio, and Rosselli from 1481 for one year to paint frescos for the Sistine Chapel.
Botticelli worked with some onsequential artist of the Florentine Renaissance, which would shape and change his style of painting. Botticellis works are seen as a landmark of high renaissance. He created some of the greatest works of this time. His early pieces were mostly of the virgin and child (1:78). He first made a name for himself when in 1470 he was public commissioned to paint Fortitude, which would be hung in the Trade law court in Florence. One of his first real milestones was the creation of the Adoration of the Magi, which he painted around 1473-1475.
This painting veered away from some of his earlier more morbid content. This was ne of the first pieces commissioned by the Medici family, who in this case gave many guidelines for the young Botticelli to follow. Botticelli would go on to paint Portrait of an unknown man with a medallion of Cosimo the Elder, in the same time period (5:42). Then he would create one of the most well known Allegory of Spring, quite different subject matter from times before with the conceptions of mythological characters and a defined plot. Then in 1481 he went to Rome to work on frescos of the Sistine Chapel ordered by Pope Sixtus IV.
After this he went on to create the sister painting to Allegory of Spring, Birth f Venus. Botticelli continued to create heroic works of art portraying many different stories and characters. He painted an array of religious artwork as well as portraits and mythological pieces. He was a well-rounded painter who will influence the art world for centuries after his death in 1510. Botticellis style of painting was a combination of the influences of his teacher, but the time and his own creative energy help determine much of his work. Botticelli was an apprentice to Lippi who had a huge influence and him defined many of his early works.
Lippi taught Botticelli the concept of drawing utlines, this was to create the effect of transparency, and to give the painting a certain fluidity and harmony (2:69). A viewer can see this in many of Botticellis work including Allegory of Spring. Botticelli was also influenced by the Pollaiolo brother whom he also works with. These men taught him emotive force and also the usage of color. An obvious idea, which can be viewed in many of Botticellis allegorical paintings, including Allegory of Spring, is the greater amount of luminosity, as well as a softer look of pride (2:70).
Botticelli wanted to accentuate the elegance of the pose and the decoration of he characters also. This artist held a great adhesion to the neo-platonic style of Marsilio Ficino and Agnolo Poliziano. Not only was Botticelli influenced by certain people of this time he was also influenced by the early Greek and Roman culture, especially the ancient mythology. This is the basis of the work Allegory of Spring. The entire story line, characters, and style were partially picked up by these people.
This was a concept new and different at this time, Botticelli did not only use it in this one painting it was also widely present in the equally as famous Birth of Venus. Venus, the Roman goddess of love and eauty, is featured in both of these painting, representing the likeliness of beauty and love as well as ancient Roman culture and religion to Botticelli. The concept of Roman and Greek mythology entwined with some of Botticellis Christian ideas creates what many scholars call Christian Neoplatonism. This would have a huge impact on the style that Botticelli designed for this work.
Neoplatonism is the backbone in this work by one of the most thought provoking painters of the Renaissance. Botticellis notion of replacing the normal Christian-Hierarchy-Portrait painting was remarkable (3:1). This concept of Christian Neoplatonism was new and conventional; Neoplatonism is the collective designation for the philosophical and religious doctrines of the classical pagan philosophy. These theories of knowledge are mainly based on the ideas on explanations of Plato. Neoplatonism seeks to locate the One, or God in Christian Neoplatonism, in the finite world and human experience.
This was and is a complex and confusing way of thinking however it was this that Botticelli based many, including Allegory of Spring, on. This concept really came into play during the third century of Rome. It is partly based on the Greek mythological logic and religion with many newer Christian aspects added upon it. This is an ever-changing subject with many different sects of views and new ideas forming all the time (3:2). Botticellis Allegory of Spring was painted in 1480 with tempura on canvas. This pre-Christian piece was one of the largest panel paintings with mythological themes.
This painting has been in the Uffizi art museum in Florence, Italy since 1919 and was recently restored in 1982. Botticelli painted this in honor of the marriage of Lorenzo Pierfranceso de Media and Seriramide Appiani. Most likely this painting was inspired by Ovid, Lucretius, and the great Roman poet Horace. The picture combines the classical Roman pose of antique statues with the more recent gothic ideas. This painting is overwhelmed with character and ancient mythology creating one of the most prized paintings of the great Italian Renaissance.
The inspiration for this painting could have come from reading the Latin poets Ovids Fasti, but it is more likely that the inspiration came from Verses for the Joust by Agnolo Poliziano. It was in this, which the writer describes a meadow where grasses and lants grew, where the winds blew and where “Happy Spring was ever present”. This poem refers to the neoplatonic thoughts seen throughout the painting (5:7). This is a very complex and intricate painting with an intensely interesting plot. This painting is set in Venus divine garden with a flower filled meadow and a shady grove in the background.
There are numerous slender trees and many mythological characters in the scene. To the left end of the painting is Mercury, the son of Jupiter and the nymph Maia. Virgils Aeneid could have inspired this young traveler with hat, sword and winged sandals. Mercury, who is he herald of Jove, is portraying the dispersing of winter winds and the renewal of spring. Just next to Mercury are the three graces dancing in a circle. One touches cupid above as one turns towards Mercury. Notice the linearity of the outlines of one of the graces that creates a feeling of spirituality with their features and shape (2:68).
The cupid that is motioned to is Amor, the god of passionate love. Amor, or Eros to the Greek, is the winged son of Mars and Venus. This can be seen by the bow, which he carries and also the arrows, quiver and blindfold. Just below Amor is the goddess of love and beauty, Venus. Venus extends her hand toward the three graces to modulate their dance. On the far right is the icy blue god of the west winds, Zephyrus. He embraces Chloris; he is transforming her from nymph into Flora the goddess of spring; Flora is the figure between Chloris and Venus.
This painting is Botticellis conception of spring in a reverse pagan concept. One of Botticellis greatest additions to the artwork he created was the amazing symbolism within. The symbolic meaning to this painting is while spring awakens the world to the beauty, Venus uses love to turn the human heart to truths divine (1:78). This painting is mostly based on the beauty and renewal of life in spring, it also focus on love. Venus, the center point of this painting stirs the flowers to life with her warm winds.
Venus is the symbol of spring this is seen by the adornment of flowers by the graces. She, not only a symbol of spring, represents civilization, governing the world and the actions of men. There are many interpretations of Venus, another idea is the portrayal of spiritual love, with above her, a bandaged Cupid in the process of shooting one of his arrows. Further to the left are the three graces, heir fingers entwined, their hair delicately waving and their transparent dresses, they are dancing harmoniously, while Mercury dispels the clouds from the flower filled garden, with his caduceus.
This wooden stick with two snakes twisting around it, is a symbol of medicine (3:2). Mercury himself is not merely a handsome youth but a revealer of the truth as he touches the clouds to unveil the mysteries (1:78). The characters in this piece have a great depiction of the thoughts of Botticelli. The painting itself has many underlying meanings, also. For example, the blossoming gardens represent the metaphor for the fertility of Flora. Chloris and Flora are the same people in this painting though they are portraying the metamorphosis they she is going throw.
The graces may symbolize liberty. These additions to the painting that Botticelli made had a huge influence on the way many people perceive him and his work. This paintings theme is mainly based on the vivid symbols and representations. Botticelli had a true gift of including and understanding all aspect of artwork when creating this piece. In Birth of Venus much of the same symbolism carries over to add interest and a personal touch to his work. Many of Botticellis successors owe uch to this man who paved a wonderful road to the use of symbolism.
The symbols, the story line, the style of this artwork all come together to form a harmonious conception that the renewal of spring brings. Botticellis every brush stroke signifies the beauty and mysteriousness of the mythological story depicted in this piece. Botticelli brings to life the peacefulness and abundance of new life to Venus garden. This painting is truly a highlight of Renaissance culture and art at its peak, with the fluid brush strokes, the statuesque characters and the true meaning of spring brought together.
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