Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510), was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine school under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later as a “golden age”, a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. Among his best known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera.
Primavera, also known as Allegory of Spring, is a tempera panel painting. Painted ca. 1482, the painting is described in Culture & Values (2009) as “[o]ne of the most popular paintings in Western art”.It is also, according to Botticelli, Primavera (1998), “one of the most written about, and most controversial paintings in the world.” While most critics agree that the painting, depicting a group of mythological figures in a garden, is allegorical for the lush growth of Spring, other meanings have also been explored. Among them, the work is sometimes cited as illustrating the ideal of Neoplatonic love. The painting itself carries no title and was first called La Primavera by the art historian Giorgio Vasari who saw it at Villa Castello, just outside Florence, in 1550.
The history of the painting is not certainly known, though it seems to have been commissioned by one of the Medici family. It contains elements of Ovid and Lucretius and may have been inspired by a poem by Poliziano. Since 1919 the painting has been part of the collection of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.
Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman, also known as Giovanna degli Albizzi Receiving a Gift of Flowers from Venus (Italian: Venere e le tre Grazie offrono doni a una giovane), is a fresco of circa 1483-1486. The painting and its companion piece, A Young Man Being Introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts, originally decorated the walls of Villa Lemmi, a country villa near Florence owned by Giovanni Tornabuoni, uncle of Lorenzo de’ Medici and head of the Roman branch of the Medici Bank. They were probably commissioned for the wedding in 1486 of Giovanni’s son Lorenzo to Giovanna of the Albizzi family, and are therefore thought to depict the two.
Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman shows a young woman, probably Giovanna Tornabuoni, being received by Venus and the three Graces. Giovanna holds open a white cloth, into which Venus is laying roses symbolizing beauty and love.
Both paintings were discovered at Villa Lemmi in 1873 under a coat of whitewash and removed from the wall and transferred to a canvas support. They are now in the Musée du Louvre, Paris.
Venus and Mars is a c. 1483 painting. It shows the Roman gods Venus and Mars in an allegory of Beauty and Valour. Venus watches Mars sleep while two infant satyrs play carrying his armour as another rests under his arm. A fourth blows a small conch shell in his ear in an effort to wake him.
The scene is set in a forest, and the background shows, in the distance, the sea from which Venus emerged. A swarm of wasps hover around Mars’ head, possibly as a symbol that love is often accompanied by pain. Another possible explanation is that the wasps represent the Vespucci family that may have commissioned the painting; the symbol of the Vespucci house is the wasp. The painting is thought originally to have been the back of a lettuccio, a wooden sofa.
The Birth of Venus (in Italian: Nascita di Venere) is a 1486 painting. It depicts the goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a fully grown woman, arriving at the sea-shore (which is related to the Venus Anadyomene motif). The painting is on display at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.