Sandro Botticelli
Nanna Tornabuoni Receiving a
Gift of Flowers from Venus

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211 X 284 cm

Paris, Musee du Louvre

Matteo Albizzi Presented by Grammar to Phronesis and the Liberal Arts

and Nanna Tornabuoni Receiving a Gift of Flowers

When Botticelli painted non-religious images, he always used behavior that was specific to men and women. His paintings explored the way male and female roles worked together. This was true when Botticelli gave each gender their current day roles or if he reversed the traditional roles of the man and woman. These paintings were done to celebrate the marriage of Nanna Tornabuoni and Matteo degli Albizzi.

The Matteo Albizzi Presented by Grammar to Phronesis and the Liberal Arts is an example of the difference between the male and female roles in the 1400’s. Matteo is entering the scene in contemporary clothing and shoes suitable for the outside world. He is ready to enter the world and explore. The women, in contrast, are dressed in traditional clothing in a setting that shows them waiting for the man.

There are eight women in this picture. They each represent an important segment of the liberal arts. They are Grammar, Dialectics (Logic), Rhetoric, Arthmatic, Astronomy, Geometry, and Music. The woman in the red with the bow and raising her hand in greeting is the mother of Philology. She is representative of all the liberal art areas Matteo degli Albizzi was expected to get his education.

Nanna Tornabuoni Receiving a Gift of Flowers is in contrast to the Matteo Albizzi painting. The Nanna Tornabuoni is centered more around the female world. The Three Graces with Venus are on the left, while Tornabuoni, whom the picture is painted for, is on the right. This picture is indeed meant for a wedding because Venus represents love and beauty and the Three Graces represent the qualities that are expected from a married woman. The way gender roles are portrayed is done very well in both these pictures. The men are to surround themselves with education while the woman should surround herself with grace beauty and love.

Another reference to the gender differences pointed out in these paintings are in the settings Botticelli chose to portray them. In the Matteo Albizzi painting, there is an openness surrounding the scene. The man was expected to go and explore the world. The woman was expected to stay in the enclosed garden and stay with in the walls of the home. By viewing these painting side by side, one can get a glimpse of how society dictated the roles of a man and a woman.





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