Botticelli: Poet of Painting
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Botticelli: Poet of Painting

"Primavera" is one of Botticelli's most remarkable paintings.The painting is symbolically centered around three spring months, each of which is linked to a different story. One part is dedicated to the ancient Greek myth of creation of the goddess of flowers and plants - Flora. Another one tells the story of Venus and the three Graces. The third one is dedicated to Mercury.

The walls of the famous Sistine chapel in Vatican have been decorated with frescoes by Sandro Botticelli for at least 500 years. Graceful bodies, fixed plasticity, sad melancholic faces, beautiful wandering eyes... Sandro Botticelli is incomparable as far as poetic fantasy is concerned. 

Like many of his works, Primavera was born in Florence. This painting, also known as Allegory of Spring, has a rhythm and an antique beauty in it. The three spring months are symbolically present in the picture. 

March

The movement in the painting goes from the right to the left. From the upper right corner a blue and green figure in a floating cloak invades the space. We can recognize Zephyrus, the Wind, with his puffed out cheeks and wings. His flight has made tree trunks bend. He has caught the running nymph with a tenacious grip. She has turned her frightened face towards him while touching the third figure with her hands, asking for help. But this one does not seem to notice and walks towards the lower border of the painting, and, with a sower's gesture, to take another handful of seeds, she puts her right hand in the folds of her dress filled with roses. It's the goddess of flowers and plants Flora. 

Botticelli had to depict these three figures to tell the story of how the spring wind Zephyrus turned Chloris, the nymph, into the goddess of blossom. The third figure on the right is Chloris who has been transformed. She has become a goddess wearing a magnificent dress, although before this the two female figures were only related by the flowers falling down from the lips of Chloris together with her breath. The three characters symbolize the first month of the spring - March, for the first breath of Zephyrus was considered the beginning of the season. 

April

If it was not for Cupid soaring over her head, we could have never guessed that Venus is depicted in the center of the picture. She is presented in a simple, modest, tender manner. She is not the miscellaneous goddess who is used to command. With the movement of her right hand Venus blesses the three Graces in a patronizing, caring way. This gesture as well as the modesty of the clothes can be understood like a preference to the spiritual part of a human rather than physical beauty. Venus and her companions, Graces, symbolize the second month of the spring - April. The name of the month itself comes from the Greek name of the goddess - Aphrodite. 

Venus, Flora, Cupid

May

Finally, the last character of the picture is Mercury. He is the honorable companion of the three Graces, because he is the god of reason and eloquence, the inventor of the arts. In the Roman calendar the month of May was dedicated to Mercury. He is named after his mother - Maia. Mercury is turned away from the other three spring gods (or rather - goddesses) - he is directed towards the beginning of the summer. Girls' friendship, the birth of love (pay attention to the Grace in the center of the picture: she is still moving inside the round dance of her friends, but her head is turned towards Mercury and she contemplates him), dreamy growth of life (Flora image theme), tender care, slow upwards movement of a thought (Mercury theme) - everything is presented with Botticelli's clearness and purity.

Three Graces and Mercury

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