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21
Saturday
21 March 2020

Spring is all about love,
peace, and prosperity. And healing

Spring has finally sprung. And what better way to celebrate its arrival than heading down to Florence even though all the museums are closed. We can still admire Botticelli’s masterpiece. ‘Spring’ can be found, as everyone knows, in the Galleria degli Uffizi. What most people do not know is that the painting depicts nine figures from traditional mythology walking across a blooming field before an orange grove and laurel forest. In the foreground, to the right, Zephyr embraces and makes love to the nymph Clori, depicted just behind Flora, goddess of flowering plants. Venus, goddess of love and beauty, wearing a chaste ensemble, takes centre stage, slightly removed from the foreground, and behind her Cupid is about to loose is love arrow. To the left, the three Graces – minor divinities close to Venus – dance in a circle. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, closes the composition, wearing a helmet and winged sandals and grazes a scudding cloud with his caduceus, a rod with two symmetrical snakes. The composition’s original meaning is still shrouded in mystery, but we understand how the work celebrates love, peace, prosperity which we would want to be a synonym of healing in these days. The flora owes its dark hue partially to the original pigmentation’s alteration, and is lightened by the richness of flowers and fruit. A good 138 species of different plants can be seen and are accurately described by Botticelli who probably used herbariums. The attention to detail confirms the dedication of the maestro in making this piece, also confirmed by the technical prowess of his brushstrokes. The work was made on a poplar frame and at the end of the 15th century was located in the house in Via Larga in Firenze (today’s Via Cavour). The villa belong to the heirs of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici, cousin of Lorenzo de’ Medici; it was hanging above a bed, a chest of sorts, with a headrest typical of the lordly furnishing in the Renaissance. It was then moved to Castello Villa, as described in 1550 by Giorgio Vasari, together with the ‘The Birth of Venus’, another renowned Botticelli masterpiece that you can admire in Florence at the Galleria. Spring has finally sprung: may it bring good news to heal us all. We really need it.