Botticelli: "Masterpieces In Colour" Series Book II
From Florence, in the second half of the fifteenth century, men looked into a new dawn. When the Turk took Constantinople in 1443, the "glory that was Greece" was carried to her by fleeing scholars, and she became for one brilliant generation the home of that Platonic worship of beauty and philosophy which had been so long an exile from the hearts of men. We say Platonic, because it was especially to Plato, the mystic, that she turned, possessed still by something of the mystical intensity of her own great poet, himself an exile.
When, in 1444, Pope Eugenius left her to return to Rome, Florence was ready to welcome this new wanderer, the spirit of the ancient world. And the almost childish wonder with which she received that august guest is evident in all the marvellous work of the years that followed, in none more than in that of "SANDRO BOTTICELLI". Botticelli's posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century. Among his best known works are The Birth of VENUS and PRIMAVERA.
Part I: First Age
PLATE I.—THE BIRTH OF VENUS.
From the tempera on canvas in the Uffizi. (Frontispiece)
This picture is generally regarded as the supreme achievement of Botticelli's genius. It was probably painted about 1485, after his return from Rome.
The canvas measures 5 ft 8 in. by 9 ft 1 in., so that the figures are nearly life size. No reproduction can do justice to the exquisite delicacy of expression in the original. Something of the same quality will be found in the "Mars and Venus" in the National Gallery, which was probably painted about the same time. The two figures on the left are usually described as Zephyrus and Zephyritis, representing the south and south-west winds: that on the right may be one of the Hours of Homer's Hymn, or possibly the Spring.