Sandro Botticelli (Italian; 1445 – 1510) ”The Birth of Venus”, c. 1484 – 1486, Tempera on canvas, 172.5 x 278.5 cm, Collage, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy, source of photo: public domain, commons.wikimedia.

Writing about the genesis of the painting of „The Birth of Venus” and the initial fate of this canvas, we must only rely on assumptions. Taking into account the fact that the painting was made on canvas, it seems reasonable to say that from the very beginning it was intended for one of the Tuscan country mansions, which were decorated more simply and cheaper than palaces in the city center. In addition, the canvas was lighter and therefore more convenient to transport. Until the mid-16th century, we do not really know anything about the customers of this masterpiece. Only later, the incomparable Giorgio Vasari comes to our aid. Well, Vasari mentioned in the first edition of „The Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors and Architects” from 1550 that he saw Botticelli’s canvas together with another mythological masterpiece „La Primavera” in the Villa di Castello of the Medici country estate. Vasari visited Villa di Castello in the 1830s and 1940s. It was also then that he had to see both of Botticelli’s remarkable works for the first time. For quite a long time, the prevailing statement among researchers was that both paintings were commissioned by the same members of the Medici from the older branch of this family. These potential commissioners of both paintings were Lorenzo and Giovanni di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici. There were they who bought Villa di Castello in 1477. A year later, both brothers demanded enormous sums from the ruler of Florence, Lorenzo di’ Medici, as repayment of the loans they had granted. The dispute was settled in their favor, Lorenzo had to give his relatives the Villa in Caffagiolo and the property in Mugello.  So the brothers had the means to equip their residences in a proper way. This was also the case with, for example, „La Primavera”, which was listed in the inventory of the Villa di Castello. However, this cannot be said of „The Birth of Venus”. The canvas was not included in the inventory of the Villa di Castello drawn up in 1499, nor in the years 1503 and 1516. Hence it seems reasonable to suppose that Botticelli’s painting was placed in the Villa di Castello before Vasari’s visit in the 1830s or 1640s. Villa di Castello later became one of the favorite places of Cosimo I de’ Medici, who took power in Florence in 1537, later becoming Grand Duke of Tuscany. One of the artists he commissioned to work in Villa di Castello was Giorgio Vasari, who was responsible for the renovation and extension of the residence. The „Birth of Venus” and „La Primavera” were in the Villa di Castello until 1815. It was then that these paintings were transferred to the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence, where they are kept, intermittently (in the 1820s at the Galleria dell’Accademia), to this day.

There is no major problem with indicating who the woman waiting for Venus on dry land is. She was shown in profile. This is one of the Horae or Hours, the goddesses, personifications of the four seasons. They guarded the order between the seasons set by nature and people. According to one version, Horae were considered to be the daughters of Zeus and Themis. Due to the presence of spring flowers on the dress and cloak held by Hora, she is considered to be the Hora of Spring, known as Thallo, sometimes also equated with the Roman Flora. Hora is waiting for her goddess leaning towards her. She is ready to cover Venus immediately with the purple cloak she holds in the outstretched hands. She was shown in profile. She has soft, girly features and like all the other characters – wavy hair. Part of her long golden hair is braided into a long braid. Hora’s neck is decorated with a headband of myrtle. Her waist is wrapped with roses. Hora’s long white dress is decorated with blue cornflowers. On the purple cloak intended for Venus, there are daisies. The pose of Hora also fits perfectly into the kinetics of the entire composition. She seems to have been caught in some ethereal dance, resting only on the toes of her bare feet on the grass growing on the Cypriot shore.

More on September 30, 2022 on the blog #Looking4Beauty

#historiasztuki #historyofart #ArtHistory #sztuka #art #arte #piękno #beauty #bellezza #Włochy #Italia #Italy #Florencja #Florence #Firenze #Botticelli #SandroBotticelli #Renesans #Renaissance #GalleriadegliUffizi #UffiziGallery #Uffizi #GaleriaUffizi #Wenus #Venus #Venere #NascitadiVenere #BirthofVenus #NarodzinyWenus


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