The trees appear to bear golden apples, a possible reference to the myth of Venus and the golden apple which seems feasible considering Venus appears in the center of the painting underneath the great canopy provided by the trees. Golden apples are also the attribute of the Three Graces, the handmaidens of Venus, also shown in this work. Chloris, the ancient Greek goddess of flowers, is fleeing from Zephyr, the west wind of springtime whom begets flowers, on the right side of the painting. When Zephyr catches her in his embrace flowers spill from her lips and she transforms into Flora the Roman goddess of flowers. Flora is depicted separately from Chloris and is dressed in blossoms as she scatters flowers over the ground.
In the center is a dignified Venus with a promise of joy. Above Venus is the infant Cupid, blindfolded and aiming his arrows of love. To the left the Three Graces dance in silent daydream of grace. They are separated from the other figures in time as indicated by their hair blowing in the opposite direction from Zephyr’s gusts. The figure on the extreme left is that of Mercury, messenger of the gods. He provides a male counterpart to Zephyr. Zephyr is breathing love and warmth into McGaharan 2 a wintry world while Mercury is diverting this expression to a more culturally acceptable form, considering the context of the time period, by opening the scene to the gods. The scene has a dream like quality.
The subject seems to be ambivalent, the gentle yet strong colors give the figures presence and weight, but the figures also seem insubstantial or dreamlike. The light figures of the painting heavily contrast with the dark background of the woods. The ground does not seem to be present but flowers are scattered on top of it adding to the dreamlike state of the work. The picture is harmonized by the equal distribution of figures over the picture plane. There is a slow moving rhythm to the way the figures move added to by the various gestures of their arms, graceful and elegant. It is interesting to note that the hand of the fleeing Chloris as it overlaps, and appears to blend into, the arm of Flora.
Botticelli lived from 1445 to 1510 in Florence. Despite his individuality as a Renaissance painter, he remained little known for centuries after his death until his work was rediscovered late in the 19th century. Botticelli was a pupil of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi. He was commissioned to do this work after enjoying success over his work Venus and Mars, an allegory of War and Love, for the Medici families.
Lorenzo di Piefrancesco de’Medici enjoyed Mars and Venus so much he commissioned Botticelli for two works, Primavera and The Birth of Venus. These works are considered his best works. I chose this piece because I reviewed Mars and Venus and found the elegance of Botticelli style captivating. The mystery of this particular painting interested me. The fact that scholars cannot understand the exact subject of the work adds an element of mystery to the work.