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Art / Primavera

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"I've a fruitful garden in the fields that were my dower,
Fanned by the breeze, and watered by a flowing spring.
My husband stocked it with flowers, richly,
And said: 'Goddess, be mistress of the flowers.'"
Flora, Ovid's Fasti

Primavera (also called Spring) is a large tempera painting by Italian artist Sandro Botticelli, made circa 1478-1482.

The painting depicts a number of figures from Classical Mythology. In the far right, the wind god Zephyrus transforms the nymph Chloris into the goddess Flora. A pregnant Venus and her son Cupid (above her, aiming an arrow) stand in the center. To Venus's left are the Three Graces in a dance, while Mercury stands at far left. Interpretations of Primavera, and the interactions between its characters, vary but as a whole, it is generally agreed to be a metaphor for spring: Flora is the goddess of Spring, Venus's sacred month is April, while Mercury's namesake festival is in May.

The history of Primavera is unknown; it may have been commissioned by a member of the wealthy Medici family (the orange grove the deities stand in was a symbol of the family). It is housed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Compare The Birth of Venus, Botticelli's other big work starring Venus.

Tropes in the painting:

  • Adaptational Modesty: Zigzagged in regards to the portrayal of the Graces. Ancient art depicts them nude while, in Medieval pieces, they are covered with sheets. Botticelli, an exponent of the Renaissance, mixes both ideas —the Graces are wearing translucent clothing.
  • Allegory: The painting is generally agreed to be an allegorical retelling of spring, given the appearances of Flora, Venus, and Mercury.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Wind god Zephyrus has dark bluish-gray skin, in contrast to the other figures in the painting.
  • Cupid's Arrow: Cupid is seemingly aiming an arrow at one of the Graces.
  • Earthy Barefoot Character: The painting shows characters from myth, including spring goddess Flora, barefoot in a fertile garden.
  • Elemental Embodiment: Zephyrus, one of the Anemoi and the embodiment of the west wind, is one of the figures in the painting.
  • Flowers of Nature: Chloris is in a plain dress as a nymph; upon her transformation to the spring goddess Flora, she is bedecked in flowers. There are also several flowers in the garden.
  • Nude Nature Dance: The three Graces are doing a "barely-clothed nature dance" in the garden.
  • One-Word Title: The title is merely Primavera, which means Spring in Italian.
  • Putto: Cupid is depicted as a winged babylike creature notching an arrow.
  • Sadly Mythtaken: It is unknown why Botticelli chose this grouping of Classical Mythology characters to hang out in a garden, since there aren't any myths that have them all together.
  • Weather Manipulation: Mercury appears to be raising his staff to some dark winds, which are blowing away from the garden.
  • Vapor Wear: The Graces and Chloris are draped in translucent sheets that make it clear they are nude underneath.