Primavera: Aphrodite/Venus

AphroditeimagesCA42KGLFVenus/Aphrodite, goddess of love is the central figure draped in red and dressed in blue with Cupid above her. Like the flower-gatherer, she returns the viewer’s gaze. The orange trees behind her (a Medici symbol) form a broken arch above her to draw the eye. She stands in front of a myrtle bush which is sacred to her. Venus/Aphrodite clothed herself in myrtle bush after she emerged from the sea where she was born.

In 1499 the painting was in the collection of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’Medici. One of the models proposed for Venus was Semirande, the wife of Lorenzo. Another possible model was Simonetta Vespucci, a supposed mistress of Guiliano de’ Medici. Since 1919, the painting has hung in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. During World War Two, the picture was moved to Montegufoni Castle about ten miles south-west of Florence to protect it from wartime bombing.

Next week, Treasures of the Uffizi.

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