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Universalization of Christianity Through Repetition and Differentiation in Sandro Boticelli's Primavera - Essay Example

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Universalization of Christianity Through Repetition and Differentiation in Sandro Boticelli's Primavera

Over their heads hang many oranges, and at the feet of the party is a field of various flowers, all of different colors and shapes. One of the most immediate formal aspects of this work is the obvious well balanced and symmetrical repetition of many different colors, forms and lines, which, when combined with the Christian implication of several of the symbols of the work, create a universalizing image of Christianity. The repetition in this work begins with the plants that grow above and below the main scene. The trees are dotted with oranges, bright colored fruit that create a star-like pattern over the roof of the party, which is mirrored by the flowers on the floor. These sprinkling of bright colors recall the expanse of the universe and the night sky, and begin creating the idea of this as a universal representation. Following the lines of these fruit trees behind the party of figures draws the viewers attention to the ground, which is likewise full of star-like clusters. These clusters are made of flowers, which, while homogenous at a distance and in creating the effect of repetition, are in fact extraordinarily varied. Each of the flowers is brightly colored, reinforcing the star-like pattern caused by the oranges hanging overhead, but when examined closer it becomes apparent that each has its own particular form and color, and is not like any of the others. This further reinforces that the painting expresses the whole of creation, both in its expanse, through the repetition of bright, star like patterns, and through the specific, with a huge amount of individual flair still being represented in the homogenous whole. The setting of this painting, through its repetition of bright colors, recalls the whole of creation. The symmetry of both the horizontal and the vertical axis also serve this purpose, allowing the viewer to imagine that the expanse continues on all sides in a similarly diverse but congruent way. This repetition is carried through the figures in the painting as well, with Venus serving as the central axis over which the repetition is made. There is repetition in color, with figures on both the left and the right of Venus, as well as the red of Mercury’s tunic being mirrored in Venus’s. Finally, there is a compositional symmetry in the sole adult male figures, Zephyrus and Mercury, both being on the outside of the painting serving as the boundary of the image. The purpose of all of this repetition of is to create a universalizing effect, but what, if anything, is Botticelli trying to universalize? To understand this it is important to look at the symbolism of the painting. The Putto over Venus’s head serves as a dual symbol – it is both a Christian symbol with associations of heaven (in having innocence, angelic wings etc), while also being a common Roman motif. Venus serves a similar double role – she is obviously the Roman goddess of romance and birth, but here she also serve as a stand-in for Mary. The leaf patterns and archway over her head both serve to draw attention to her and create a halo effect, mirroring the kind of halo that Mary is often depicted with, while her pregnant-looking belly recalls the birth, something else Mary is frequently associated with. Her hand seems to be raised in benediction. Her white dress symbolizes innocence, while the red cloak hanging over her lower half ...Show more
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Summary

Primavera has been an incredibly popular painting for a long period in Western Art. At first glance it is easy to see why – it is incredibly aesthetically pleasing on many levels, with strong use of repetition, beautiful figures, all set in a beautiful flowered orchard…
Universalization of Christianity Through Repetition and Differentiation in Sandro Boticellis Primavera
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