Primavera by Painter Sandro Botticelli

Primavera is a painting created on May 1482 by painter Alessandro Filipepi, who was better known as Sandro Botticelli. Different ideas and situations happening during the Reinassance period inspired the painter to create the painting. Political, religious, paganism and intellectuals situations caused Botticelli to come up with the paintings. Most paganism art creations were destroyed by priest Savonarola when he rose to power in Florence. In the painting, the artist has conveyed his ideas through variation of color palette, emotion, mood, tone and use of technique. The primavera painting was not only famous during the Italian Renaissance but it is also famous by its viewers today. This paper will focus on discussing what the Primavera painting conveyed to Renaissance viewers. It will show how the painting revealed spiritual, intellectual and political beliefs of the renaissance period. The paper will also discuss how the painting appeals for viewers of today.


Primavera is a painting by painter Alessandro Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli. The painting was created in May, 1482 and is housed in Uffizi Museum in Florence. The painting features two male and six women. To the right part of the painting, is a woman with flowers on her dress and scattering them on the floor. Near the woman with flowers is another woman being seized by a winged man. The man has puffed cheeks, unnatural complexion that separates him from other figures and has expression intent towards the woman. The trees around the man blow towards the direction of the woman and the woman’s skirt is also blown by the wind. Although the true meaning of the painting is unknown, it was probably painted for the marriage of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco, a cousin of the powerful Lorenzo Medici. Sandro Botticelli was born in 1445 and lived in the time of Lorenzo de Medici. Botticelli became important in the early Italian Renaissance. Most characters in Primavera are mythological. The characters in the painting include Mercury, Venus, Cupid, three Graces, Zephyr, Flora and Chloris. The human figures in the painting are floating and their golden-haired faces and pale skin give them an angelic quality. Primavera is a secular painting commissioned for private patrons.

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Spiritual, Intellectual and Political Ideas That the Painting Conveyed To Renaissance Viewers

In the painting, pagan and Christian themes are intertwined. For example in the painting, Mercury, Venus and Mars are familiar pagan figures. In the painting, Venus represents the Goddess of love and Mercury represent messenger of the gods. The painting represent a time in Renaissance history when artists were comfortable enough in displeasing the church by creating works of art based upon pagan themes. During the Renaissance period, art patrons like the Medici rediscovered pagan mythology from the ancient writing of Ovid, Hesiod, Virgil and Homer.  The painting pictured the combat of Libido and Ratio; symbols that show the conflict of the pagan and Christian ways of life.  Pagan themes were revealed in the painting by Sandro Botticelli.  Although Botticelli painted some religious scenes, his interest extended for beyond religious subject matter. During the mythological period of the gods, people were open to new ideas; therefore religion was no longer the main subject and topic of artistic work. New mythological pieces such as pieces of political, paganism and intellect were therefore adopted by painters. This would not have been possible 100 years earlier since the church would not have tolerated and accepted new paintings different to traditional depictions. Before the pagan myths became fully integrated in the popular culture of Renaissance, Savonarola, the fanatical Christian priest rose to power in Florence and ordered for the Bonfire of the paintings, in which all immoral and pagan works of art were destroyed with fire in the streets.  During the time when Christian subjects dominated art, Botticelli revived mythological subject matter.

All themes of the Italian Renaissance were illustrated and depicted brilliantly with the help of techniques such as attention to space, perspective, physical form and brighter colors. The painting was inspired by the rise of generous and affluent patron, Medici family of Florence. Primavera painting depicts intelligence since Botticelli constantly listened to classical legends and philosophical debates which were discussed behind the walls of the Medici Palace by Lorenzo’s intellectual friends. Botticelli was inspired by such discussions and created new form of art. The Renaissance artists, including Botticelli studied the artistic and intellectual artifacts of the Greco-Roman period. They believed they could achieve total enlightenment, a higher degree of wisdom and artistic greatness by studying the artifacts. As Michael Baxadall has said, by gaining a better understanding of artistic artifacts, artists were able to illustrate the new world in more precise and accurate detail.

The painting on the theme of politics

The theme was inspired by political crisis which overtook the city of Florence. The government of Medici fell which was followed by extremist religious rules by Zealot Savonarola. As a result Botticelli created a series of religious paintings.  Political and economic disruptions in Florence inspired Painter Botticelli to come up with painting with political and economic influences. During the summer of 1348, many inhabitants of Florence died of bubonic plague. The younger generation of the Medici family requested new paintings from painters. The birth of Venus and entry of mythology paintings came up with new art. Botticelli came up with new paintings that were based on historical accounts.

The religious themes

Later in the career of Botticelli, he reverted to religious themes. In his secular works, iconographers see intertwining of mythology of antiquity with the Christian themes. Primavera suggests to many the conflict between Christian ideal of a heavenly, beatific vision and the pagan ideal which demonstrate earthly beauty. The painting shows the celebration of arrival of spring, primavera by Venus, ancient goddess of fertility and beauty. In the painting, primavera is surrounded by allegorical figures. The figures represent the gods and virtues of the ancient world.

The Portrait of Venus

In the painting, the artist’s technique is to convey his ideas through variation of color palette, emotion, mood and tone. For example, the painter portrays Venus hair as golden and long and sweeps gracefully about her. The description of Venus’ hair as golden may have been inspired by Penitent Magdalene. Emotion, tone and mood in the painting show the greatest exaggeration. The lovely face of Venus reveals sadness which is more visible as she is wafted to dark shores by the winds. Botticelli’s paintings conveyed the Christian woman in Renaissance period with purity, chastity and a demeanor that was appropriate for a virtuous Renaissance woman. Their elegance, measured gestures and unemotional facades depict not only the qualities of a commendable maiden but also of the ideal wife. In primavera, the three graces perform a dance with restrained and calculated movements, commendable for ideal wife.

The primavera painting was not only famous during the Italian Renaissance but it is also famous by its viewers today. The birth of Venus is more popular today because the girl in the painting is very sexy and beautiful by modern standards. Botticelli intentionally painted the woman beautiful and sexy. He had less interest in matters of Jesus; he painted the woman to be sexy so that people not even considered Christians would find her beautiful and sexy. According to today viewers of primavera, Venus is a cute girl with charmingly natural looks. The girl may also appear as obscene, foul and vile according to today’s twisted minds.

The primavera painting is not a holy celebration portrait but is a painting of pure fantasy fueled by a vivid imagination and inspired by poetry. The painting was designed and painted appropriate to be hung above the marital bed because it portrays a daring celebration of human desire. As Venus is wafted to the dark sides by the winds, a rich garment ready awaits her to cover up her sweet and naked body. During the renaissance period, the painting needed privacy and was controversial. As a result, it was kept preserved behind closed doors for a half a century. The painting is secular; Botticelli hurled some of his paintings for the fear of his own salvation.


Botticelli too accepted paganism as a religion with profound philosophical significance. His paintings depict the belief by merging all truths into one. In modern days, the painting has been interpreted as an illustration of love. The love was popularized by Medicis and his followers. Venus in the painting portrays earthly love. The love represented by Zephyrus also portrays earthly carnal love. Today, we do not have the same conflict between Christian and mythological subject matter. Therefore, that controversy is not the main focus. In modern days, Primavera depicts life-size and naked classical gods. Slender women figures were not only idealized during the Renaissance period but also during the present modern days. A slender figure was considered elegant according to the 16th century mannerisms like the present days.

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