BOTTICELLI Henry Bryan Binns Author
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PLATE I.--THE BIRTH OF VENUS. From the tempera on canvas in theUffizi. (Frontispiece)This picture is generally regarded as the supreme achievement ofBotticelli's genius. It was probably painted about 1485, after hisreturn from Rome. The canvas measures 5 ft 8 in. by 9 ft 1 in., sothat the figures are nearly life size. No reproduction can do justiceto the exquisite delicacy of expression in the original. Something ofthe same quality will be found in the Mars and Venus in the NationalGallery, which was probably painted about the same time. The twofigures on the left are usually described as Zephyrus and Zephyritis,representing the south and south-west winds: that on the right may beone of the Hours of Homer's Hymn, or possibly the Spring.[Illustration: PLATE I.--THE BIRTH OF VENUS.]=====================================================================BOTTICELLIBY HENRY BRYAN BINNS ILLUSTRATED WITH EIGHT REPRODUCTIONS IN COLOUR[Illustration: title page logo]LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACKNEW YORK: FREDERICK A. STOKES CO.1907The plates are printed by BEMROSE DALZIEL, LTD., WatfordThe text at the BALLANTYNE PRESS, EdinburghLIST OF ILLUSTRATIONSPlate I. The Birth of Venus . . . . . . . . . . . . _Frontispiece_ From the tempera on canvas in the Uffizi II. Spring From the tempera on wood in the Florence Academy III. Portrait of a Man From the panel in the Florence Academy IV. The Madonna of the Magnificat, known also as the Coronation of the Virgin From the tondo in the Uffizi V. The Madonna of the Pomegranate From the tondo in the Uffizi VI. The Annunciation From the panel in the Uffizi VII. The Virgin and Child with St. John and an Angel From the panel in the National Gallery VIII. The Virgin and Child by an Open Window From the panel in the National Gallery[Illustration: Botticelli]From Florence, in the second half of the fifteenth century, men lookedinto a new dawn. When the Turk took Constantinople in 1443, the glorythat was Greece was carried to her by fleeing scholars, and she becamefor one brilliant generation the home of that Platonic worship ofbeauty and philosophy which had been so long an exile from the heartsof men. I say Platonic, because it was especially to Plato, themystic, that she turned, possessed still by something of the mysticalintensity of her own great poet, himself an exile. When, in 1444, PopeEugenius left her to return to Rome, Florence was ready to welcome thisnew wanderer, the spirit of the ancient world. And the almost childishwonder with which she received that august guest is evident in all themarvellous work of the years that followed, in none more than in thatof Sandro Botticelli.=====================================================================PLATE II.--SPRING. (From the tempera on wood in the Florence Academy)The date of this painting is much debated. It may probably be about1478, before the Roman visit. It is somewhat larger than the Venus,but the figures are of similar size. Reading from the left they areusually described as Mercury, the Three Graces, Venus, Primavera theSpring-maiden, Flora, and Zephyrus. The robed Venus is in strikingcontrast with that of the later picture.[Illustration: PLATE II.--SPRING.]=====================================================================He indeed was born in the very year of that new advent, lived throughthe period of its sunshine into one of storms--Stygian darkness andfrightful flashes of light--and went down at last, an old broken man,staggering between two crutches, to his grave. His times were those ofLorenzo the Magnificent, who was a few years his junior, theunacknowledged despot of the Tuscan Republic, a prince, cold and hardas steel, worthy to be an example for young Macchiavelli, yet none theless a poet, and a devoted lover both of philosophy and of allbeautiful things.


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