Today, I would like to present to you the Allegory of Spring by Botticelli. This painting is one of the masterpieces preserved in the Uffizi Gallery. This artwork needs to be put in context: the culture was sophisticated, the poetry was epic and loving, and Lorenzo de’ Medici had a intellectual group of friends with whom he liked to converse.
Sandro Botticelli, a Florentine, was born in 1445 and died in 1510. He probably opened his own studio in 1474 after spending some years working for another famous painter, Filippo Lippi. In 1481, he was called by the Pope to paint scenes from the Old Testament in the Sistine Chapel. In his painting, he was influenced by Lippi but the sensibility was his own. His characters are also clearly recognizable by their forms and their melancholy expressions.
The Allegory of Spring was made around 1482. It is an imaginary portrait of love. This painting has nine characters. The goddess Venus is in the center of the composition. On the far right, Zephyrus (the god of the west wind) is grabbing Flora, who is trying to get away. She is is made fertile by his breath. A rain of flowers is coming out of her mouth, she is turning into the Spring (the woman next to her wearing a dress with flowers). On the left, we can observe the three Graces dancing. Next to them, Mercury dissipates the clouds with his caduceus. Over Venus’ head, Cupid uses his arrow on one of the Graces. Behind the characters there are orange trees, while they are standing on flowery meadow.
This painting is an allegory where Zephyrus unites himself to Flora who becomes the Spring. Venus represents the Humanitas (the goodwill) and protects men. The artwork is full of mythological and love poetry references. The iconography has a neoplatonist origin, intellectual movement which occurred during the Renaissance especially with Lorenzo de’ Medici and his friends. Indeed, Humanitas stands for a positive man, confident and sensitive. The meaning of the painting can’t take away the wonderful work of the painter himself. All the flowers and plants are marvelously described and there is an obvious link with sculpture (especially with Verrocchio and Pollaiuolo).