Artibus et Historiae no. 48 (XXIV)

2003, ISSN 0391-9064

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SERGIUSZ MICHALSKI - Venus as Semiramis: A New Interpretation of the Central Figure of Botticelli's Primavera

An archival discovery in 1975 and the subsequent studies of Michael Rohlmann (1996) have suggested- in my opinion convincingly - that Botticelli's Primavera was originally affixed to the wainscoting in the separate bedroom of Semiramide Appiani - the young wife of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco Medici - in the old Medici Palace in the Via Larga.It is proposed here, drawing on various aspects of the mythological and iconographic tradition line connected with the patroness of Semiramide Appiani's exceedingly rare forename, the mythical queen Semiramis (creator of the famous hanging gardens of Babylon) that Botticelli and patrons intended a symbolic equivocation of the figure of Venus with the young bride portrayed in the middle of the splendid garden of "Florentia" as a new Semiramis. Since the figure of Mercury served as a disguised portrait of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco the whole picture was conceived as a celebration of their wedding in July 1482 - a hypothesis supported also by the antithetical division of the composition in two parts, each of which conveys a different moral meaning.

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