Yesterday, spring (or la Primavera, as the Italians call it) started!
Therefore a blogpost about today’s two finest Italian Primaveras.
La Primavera I
La Primavera is not only the Italians denomination of spring; it is also the nickname of the first great classic of the cycling season: Milan – San Remo. Previously this race was ridden on March 19, the feast of San Giuseppe. Today, the riders start on the Saturday which is closest to March 19. Moreover, some racing fans do not speak of La Primavera, but La Prima Vera. To refer to the first real bike race of the year.
La Primavera II
La Primavera is also the name of one of my favorite paintings. Sandro Botticelli painted this lovely painting on the occasion of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici’s marriage to Semiramis d’Appiano. Therefore, the painting first hung for a long time in the bedroom of the couple at the Palazzo Medici. After they died, the painting went for centuries into the forgetfulness. This until the mid-nineteenth century, when La Primavera moved to the Galleria degli Uffizi (Florence), where it has been admired by thousands of visitors since then.
La Primavera is above all a mythical story about the beginning of spring. Botticelli has depicted almost two hundred different kinds of flowers which bloom in spring on the hills around Florence. He also painted flowers that are impossible to bloom during spring, like oranges, which actually grow and bloom in a different time of the year.
At the far left we can see Mercury, identified by his winged shoes and the staff with two snakes. He chases the gray winter clouds. We also see the three Graces and in the centre shines the Goddess of Beauty, Venus. Above her, we notice a blindfolded Cupid who is about to shoot a love arrow. To the right of Venus is the spring goddess Flora, with at her side the nymph Chloris and Zephyr, the God of Wind. (Chloris and Zephyr are also shown in another famous painting by Botticelli, The Birth of Venus.)
Still, the significance of this masterpiece is not so easy to interpret. There is so much symbolism hidden (not just the chosen characters and their position, but also in the kinds of flowers and fruit painted by Botticelli) that an in-depth study would lead us much too far. A certain truth is that the painting was a turning point in art history and is regarded as one of the first non-religious paintings since the Greek and Roman times.