Sandro Botticelli
Portrait of a Woman
(Allegorical Portrait of Simonetta Vespuccil)

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Sandro Botticelli, Portrait of a Woman (Allegorical portrait of Simonetta Vespuccil)

Date:

1480/85

81.8 X 54 cm

Frankfurt, Gemaldegalerie Stadelsches Kunstinstitut

Portrait of a Women

For several centuries this portrait was said to have been the work of Jacopo del Sellaio only based on a design by Botticelli. In 1995/96, the painting was thoroughly restored and analyzed by Rudolph Hiller von Gaertringen. He proved that the portrait was done completely by Botticelli himself.

The painting was done so well, that its quality can be compared to Primavera. Being one of the largest in size of 15 th century female portraits, Boticelli’s hand work is easily found in the detail and excellence of the woman in the picture. She is Simonetta Vespucci, a prominent member of the Medici circle.

Simonetta is wearing a hairstyle that can typically be seen on nymph. The pearls in her hair and braids can also be linked to the nymphs. Her braids, if let loose, would also disrobe her revealing a very sensual overtone to the picture. Botticelli used the same type of braiding overlapping clothing in Venus and Mars. In contrast, just over Simonetta’s right shoulder is a breastplate which is one of the characteristics that is associated with a chaste and idealistic woman.

The medal on the necklace in the portrait is the mirror image of Apollo, Marsyas and Olympos. The cameo may have been just an antique ornament or there could be a much larger theme surrounding Apollo and Marsyas that is not clearly presented.

There is great beauty in the painting ranging from the ornate hair clip to the elaborate hairstyle. The plain background suggests a focus on the subject herself. This painting ranks high in the long line of successful portraits by Sandro Botticelli.

 

 

 



 

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