Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Botticelli's Primavera draws you in as it must have in 1482 when it was painted. First you are drawn in by the sheer loveliness of the painting and sensuality of the figures. The botanical elements alone are enough to entertain for quite some time. Once you have taken this all in the painting begs for a narrative. Once you learn a little about the story it takes on an entirely different feel. When you learn that the Primavera includes in it, a scene of the rape of Chloris by Zephyr, it hard to look at it the same again. It is even more interesting or perhaps disturbing when you learn that the Primavera was a wedding gift and that paintings that depict rape are not all that unusual as wedding gifts. I cannot help but wonder if the “rape” in this context is more about “being taken” by someone the women secretly wants to be taken by and not the sort of violent attack that comes to mind for most of us. This is also in a time when good women are not supposed to want for sex. But then in this case, Chloris is Zephyr’s sister so it is still rather hard to understand why this would be painted for a wedding couple. I realize that I may be walking on thin ice and I am surely not trying to justify rape. I am simply trying to reconcile why this sort of depiction might be considered appropriate or desirable for a wedding gift. It is also interesting how Mercury is reaching for a piece of fruit when the Three Graces are standing next to him and looking ever so lovely. It is always interesting when you try to extract meaning from a piece of art. There can me many points of view. You can have: what the artist “said” about his art, what he “thought” it was about, what he may have put in subconsciously and what others think it is about. So there are often many, sometimes conflicting, opinions about what a piece of art is about. Of course this just makes it all the more interesting.