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Sandro Botticelli (c. 1445- May 17, 1510) is known today as one of the masters of what has been called the Golden Age of art, or the Early Renaissance. A member of the Florentine school, Botticelli is best known for his mythological works, his altarpieces, and his religious paintings. Working on an immense scale, Botticelli’s detailed and colorful compositions are some of the most iconic images in the history of art. Born in Florence, Botticelli showed both sharp intelligence and promising talent at an early age, and was quickly given an apprenticeship. He began his artistic career by painting frescoes for Florentine churches and cathedrals, but soon opened his own workshop. Summoned by the Pope of Rome himself, Botticelli was incredibly successful in his lifetime, working under the patronage of the formidable Medici family. Later in life, Botticelli was heavily influenced by the fanatical friar Savonarola, at one point burning his own paintings in the so-called “Bonfire of the Vanities.” Despite his early success, Botticelli succumbed to melancholia and drifted into poverty and obscurity in his final years. Luckily, his name and work were rediscovered in the late-nineteenth century, and his popularity has not diminished since.
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Commissioned by Lorenzo de Pierfrancesco de Medici in 1477, Primavera, or The Allegory of Spring is considered to be one of Sandro Botticelli's masterpieces. Though the year of completion is uncertain, most critics affirm that it was painted sometime between 1477 and 1482. The enormous tempera panel, currently housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, has been the subject of many different interpretations and readings, and is thus one of the most studied and most well-known pieces of art of the Early Renaissance. The most widely agreed upon interpretation is that Botticelli depicts Venus, the goddess of love, in the center of the painting, representing Humanitas, or benevolence and goodwill that protects mankind. To her right are Flora and the nymph Chloris, pursued by Zephyrus, the god of wind. On Venus's left is the classical image of the Three Graces, as well as Mercury the Messenger. Some have speculated that Botticelli used his patron, a member of the powerful Medici family, as the model for Mercury. Botticelli's attention to detail is truly astounding - there are purportedly almost 200 different flowers in the painting, and 500 identified plant species. BotticelliÕs elaborate and colorful composition has come to be one of the most well-loved paintings in the entire Western canon.
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