Prior to what will be an unorthodox illustration of one of the most famous tempera paintings of the second half of the fifteenth century, a contextual preface of the work is presented that will help readers fully understand its virtues hidden by the light of a gallery’s reflectors. which hide a somewhat different analysis from the canonical one.
The hands of this diligent Florentine painter will once again move the brushes on canvas almost at the end of the 1400s, precisely at the same time as the epilogue of the “Pazzi conspiracy” in 1478. The Florentine climate of the few can therefore finally be defined as more peaceful, and Among the most famous Medici, Lorenzo “il Popolano”, cousin of the namesake known as “the Magnificent”, will commission the already well-known artist to paint one of the paintings which in the history of art imposed itself as a vivid torch of the early Italian Renaissance. Sandro Botticelli, who left the workshop of the master Filippo Lippi for just under ten years, took the reins of his skills by putting each one finely to the test.
In possession of the right colors and herbaceous plants, in about four years, he satisfied the client’s request by creating a work in which nine figures and one hundred and ninety different botanical species are arranged and well recognizable. An idyllic manifesto: a Spring in full bloom. But let’s move on to the scene. Traditionally, the work tends to be read from the right to the left, and the story begins with Zephyrus, the wind and the spring breeze, which chases and fertilizes Clori, the young nymph. The act of fertilization allows the latter to take on new features and features: the third character is therefore the result of the union of the first two, Flora, Roman deity of the flowering of the future harvest, represented while spreading and “returning” the flowers on the ground of the earth (in this case, of the Garden of the Hesperides where the story is set). In the central part of the painting emerges the central figure of Venus dressed in a red cloth and chaste clothes, Goddess of Love and Beauty , and that of the blindfolded Cupid above, who fires a dart of love; both set back from the plan. The Left section initially describes the Three Graces cheerfully dancing near Venus, conforming to the painting since in ancient times already linked to the cult of Nature and the Joy of living. Last but not least, stands out Mercury, messenger of the Gods and son of Jupiter intent on chasing the clouds with his Caduceus. We recognize the latter by the winged clothes and boots he wears. The painting is structurally designed with a balance that is not only geometric, but also symbolic, as it opens and ends with two male figures, giving a central prevalence to the different female figures and therefore allowing the concept of “fertility” to leak.
Botticelli also winks at the viewer giving the scene a chromatic and well-constructed depth with the use of a central perspective. Once the lights of the gallery have been turned off and the public hungry for immediate answers has been turned away, those who are more interested and not afraid of shadows will have the opportunity to feel the painting permeate much deeper concepts simply by observing it.
Let’s start by placing the work in front of the mirror: it allows you to read it in the opposite way as canonical analysis wants. The scene opens with Mercury, also God of change, and the latter is represented by the clouds that he can chase away thus deciding to start and end this change.
Thus, the imperturbability and meditation of the dancing Three Graces, perfectly arranged in a circle, take note.
The concept expressed here is the full embrace of concentration during the annulment of oneself in the earthly sphere to tend to God, in this case closer to the figure of Venus placed in the center.
So we come to describe the silent protagonist of the scene mentioned above: Venus.
By dividing the work in two, he transcends as a figure from the entire painting as if to explain it using his gestures. The right hand of the Goddess, (to our Left), has the palm of her hand open to perfection, facing perfectly upwards, alienating ideal meditation and love (in this regard, see the various artistic representations of the act of recalling attention by placing the same hand up). Behind Venus, instead of his Left (and our Right), we can observe the completeness of the moral balance desired by the painter in the recurring elements of the continuous repetition of human and earthly nature like errors perpetuated that distance the individual from transcendence. Wanting to find some artistic peculiarities in common, we can undoubtedly compare the work with “The School of Athens” by Raffaello Sanzio (1509-1511). It is not surprising that the importance of hand gestures, because like every other element, it is again extremely fundamental to understand that in this case, Plato, with the same hand as Botticellian spring Venus, indicates the world of ideas, while in the left position, the responsibility of the earthly world is left to Aristotle. Tradition has it that hands have tied rationality to the Right and more commonly the writing, therefore, the realization of reality itself; and the hand of the Devil has been destined for the Left since the beginning, so this has contributed to the popular concept of frightening, irrational and therefore instinctive. Historically and in folklore, moreover, the figure of the Woman is positioned on the Left of Man since she is untrustworthy compared to Man before society. We note the young Cupid circling over the Venus among the branches of the orange grove of the Hesperides garden. He is represented with the traditional blindfold on his eyes as if he wants to quote blind love, above the concepts of the duel between good and evil. It is a love that moves everything, and ferments in the air between meditation and existence, hovering over mankind, tending to the divine. It is unconscious in that in meditation and in existence itself, it represents spirituality in worship and dedication, regardless of what the concept is to believe in (for this not excluding any philosophy). Its bow is turned towards the Three Graces, symbolically intended as Meditation, since “blind”, man tends to detach himself deliberately and not to tend to a superior gnosis. We understand that in this pictorial Eden, man, conceptually participates in it although not constituting a fundamental figure: we thus arrive at the overwhelming final scene of the fertilization of Chloris. Zephyrus is not only seen as the gentle breeze of the warm season, but also as the west wind, overpowering and rainy which in this case, as described by the Florentine painter, rapes the young woman coming from the Elysian fields representing the chaos of the world in which he is prevarication of impulses that chase the still innocent humanity (the Nymph) in a timeless garden idyll. Flora, as an accomplished act, also becomes an integral part of this microcosm thus feeding a repetitive cycle, as a representation of life itself. Flora has these torn flowers in her lap, recognizable by type, which she scatters on the ground to return them to the “mother” earth, signing a repetitive circle in which time falls, since in the garden of the Hesperides, time does not exist attesting that here neither dies nor is born making the situation a stasis: life rotting nourishes itself. Furthermore, Zephyrus is a fundamental element for the representation of spring because at the beginning, according to the historical data we have received, it is the personification of a violent wind (towards, in this case of Chloris) and loaded with rains, which feed the vegetation; it then becomes mild as a breeze, and the messenger himself of the beautiful season. Finally, the enthusiasm of coupling and the quiet that appeases the act become the representation of the creative impulse within chaos and abuse of power.
Sandro Botticelli has not only created the rebirth of Nature, but has alienated the characteristic elements of painting by raising them to the divine, tending to something out of the human. Having reached the epilogue of this analysis in the mirror, it can be concluded that the way of reading the works goes beyond the optical spectrum of what appears well framed in world famous galleries such as the Uffizi. Over the centuries, each artist has always conceived the works in an extremely profound and personal way, therefore we can only be us today, with a fair amount of curiosity to investigate what the most hidden and hidden meanings are, which with colors and brushes are been put in plain sight. The sense of sight is not just a matter of immediacy.
May 31, 2020