Charles Dempsey



Botticelli’s “Primavera” and the humanistic culture at the time of Lorenzo the Magnificent.

“In town, in many houses he drew circles and naked women. Today at Castello, Villa del Duca Cosimo, there are two paintings representing one the birth of Venus and the other Venus with the flowering Graces showing the Spring”. According to Giorgio Vasari this is the first decription of one of the most important paintings of Renaissance culture, Sandro Botticelli’s “Primavera”.It is common knowledge that this marvellous painting has fascinated and is still fascinating nowadays; but, despite its familiarity it is very difficult to be interpreted. What is, for example, the subject of this work? Many generations of scholars, from Warburg to Panofsky and Gombrich until today tried to answer and the answers may be: an allegory of spring rebirth, as Vasari wanted; a transposition of De Nuptiis philologiae and Mercurii of Marziano Capella; a pictorial translation of classical latin or neoplatonic writings near to Ficino and Poliziano. No answer seems fully satisfying, because it is in contrast with the eclecticism of the painting. Charles Dempsey’s book appeared for the first time in 1992, It is a result of a long familiarity of the Author with Botticelli’s works and it proposes a new and organized interpretation of Primavera. The work is analysed by following many relationships that Botticelli had with the intellectuals of Florence (such as Lorenzo the Magnificent) during the XV century. Every single detail of the board, even if it seems inconsistent with the painting as a whole, has a new light. The result is a striking cross-section where the classical background lives together with che contemporary cultural and social context.



Traslation by Giovanna Perini

Collana Imagines Agentes

a cura di Lina Bolzoni e Sonia Maffei

Coordinamento Editoriale Carlo Alberto Girotto

Price Euro 80,00

Naples, 2007


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