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Essay Paper on Botticelli’s Painting

Botticelli’s painting marked a crisis in the evolution of the great art systems built up in the first half of the 15th century. The conception of space and perspective, the conception of form as knowledge or representation of nature, the notion of history as the dramatic figuration of human actions, the role of ethics and religion in art, the status of the artist as a member of the craftsmen’s guilds–all this was being challenged and re-examined in the light of that aspiration towards the “beautiful” which was now deflecting the course of art, just as it had deflected the trend of philosophic thought, colored the humanist study of antiquity and influenced moral standards.
Botticelli was born in 1445 (Florence, Italy). He had made his mark as a painter, for in that year he was asked to contribute the allegorical figure of Fortitude (now in the Uffizi), one of the seven Virtues commissioned to decorate the Florentine Mercatanzia (guild of the merchants). By 1472 he was a member of the Company of St Luke and employed Filippino Lippi as an apprentice. In 1473 he painted a life-sized St Sebastian (now in Berlin) for the church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Florence.

From then on references to Botticelli become more frequent. . In September 1481 he was summoned to Rome by Pope Sixtus IV to take part in decorating the newly built Sistine Chapel. Among various later references, chiefly to works now lost or never carried out, the most significant is a letter of 1496, sent from Rome by Michelangelo to Botticelli with the request that he remit it to Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici. This letter is important as showing that the two artists were acquainted and that Botticelli was still in the good graces of the Medici as late as 1496, which would never have been the case had he then openly adhered to the Piagnoni, the proSavonarola faction. There is in fact no sound historical evidence to support the claim that Botticelli was a follower of the friar and his movement. The most that can be said for certain is that Savonarola’s preaching and martyrdom deeply affected the painter’s religious outlook and the character of his later work.

Admittedly after Savonarola’s martyrdom, as the result of an acute mental crisis for which we have actual historical proof, Botticelli’s religious outlook took on new poetic and moral depths. But even his early works, usually regarded as profane, not to say pagan, are efforts to link up the Christian myth with the myth of antiquity, while his last works are a frank reversion to the religious tradition of medieval painting.
There are three interpretations of the Primavera. First, the painting represents Neo-Platonic views on beauty. Second, it shows the ceremony of celebrations and weddings which took place during those days…

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