Botticelli, Sandro. Primavera. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence. Mark Harden's
Artchive. By Mark Harden. Available
Botticelli's masterpiece, Primavera, depicts a scene of slow moving grace in what
appears to be a mythical garden. The actual subject of this masterpiece is unknown, but
there are volumes of ideas concerning the purposes and meanings the painting could have.
Despite the confusion the painting is widely admired and revered as Botticelli's finest
works. The scene appears to be a spring morning, with a pale light penetrating the straight
vertical trees in the background. The trees appear to bear golden apples, a possible
reference to the myth of Venus and the golden apple which seems feasible considering
Venus appears in the center of the painting underneath the great canopy provided by the
trees. Golden apples are also the attribute of the Three Graces, the handmaidens of Venus,
also shown in this work. Chloris, the ancient Greek goddess of flowers, is fleeing from
Zephyr, the west wind of springtime whom begets flowers, on the right side of the
painting. When Zephyr catches her in his embrace flowers spill from her lips and she
transforms into Flora the Roman goddess of flowers. Flora is depicted separately from
Chloris and is dressed in blossoms as she scatters flowers over the ground. In the center is
a dignified Venus with a promise of joy. Above Venus is the infant Cupid, blindfolded and
aiming his arrows of love. To the left the Three Graces dance in silent daydream of grace.
They are separated from the other figures in time as indicated by their hair blowing in the
opposite direction from Zephyr's gusts. The figure on the extreme left is that of Mercury,
messenger of the gods. He provides a male counterpart to Zephyr. Zephyr is breathing