Paris, 12 January 2022 – The French have discovered Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, the most beautiful woman of the Renaissance, the living Venus, the first model in the history of art. The exhibition dedicated to Botticelli by the Parisian Jacquemart-André museum proved to be the biggest success of the Christmas holidays and still attracts an impressive number of visitors (it will close at the end of the month but perhaps will be extended). “Don’t miss it!” Urges Charlie Hébdo. “Botticelli, all the beauty of the world”, urges Figaro who dedicates a special issue of 164 pages to the event. The organizers have won the great challenge of an exhibition lacking the Florentine artist’s best-known works, the Spring and the Birth of Venus, too famous and bulky to face a trip from the Uffizi to Paris: “Our goal was to know the working method …
Paris, January 12, 2022 – The French have discovered Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, the most beautiful woman of the Renaissance, the living Venus, the first model in the history of art. There exhibition dedicated to Botticelli from the Parisian museum Jacquemart-André it turned out to be the biggest success of the Christmas holidays and still attracts today (it will close at the end of the month but maybe it will be extended) an impressive number of visitors. “Don’t miss it!” Urges Charlie Hébdo. “Botticelli, all the beauty of the world”, urges Figaro who dedicates a special issue of 164 pages to the event.
The organizers have won the great challenge of an exhibition lacking the Florentine artist’s best-known works, the Spring and the Birth of Venus, too famous and bulky to face a trip from the Uffizi to Paris: “Our goal was to to know the very particular working method of Botticelli, who elaborated compositions from which copies were made in which accessories and colors could change “, explain the commissioners Ana Debenedetti and Pierre Curie. An innovator and a precursor: Alessando Filipepi known as Botticelli not only crystallized the feminine ideal of the slender woman with blond hair and diaphanous skin, in vogue throughout the Renaissance, but he was also the first artist-designer capable of imposing his own “trademark”. In fact, from the workshop that opened in Florence in 1465 on the ground floor of his father’s residence in via Nuova d’Ognissanti (today via del Porcelain), works came out that were the result of collective work, often different from the initial model but always attributable to his tastes and his style.
Two paintings are the best sellers of the exhibition: The demure Venus from the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and The beautiful Simonetta on loan from the Städel Museum in Frankfurt. The first, painted between 1485 and 1490, recalls the famous Birth of Venus made by Botticelli in 1484. The second, dated 1485, has a female face very similar to that already depicted in the Primavera (around 1478). Among other works we remember the splendid portrait of Giuliano dei Medici (1478) kept by the Carrara Academy of Bergamo, the Madonna del libro (1482), the numerous “tondi” and the illustrations of the Divine Comedy.
In any case, the main attraction for the French public is the moving story by Simonetta Vespucci, the most enigmatic female figure of the fifteenth century before another icon – the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci – came to compete with her a few decades later. No Renaissance woman was given such veneration by her contemporaries and by posterity: an exceptional circumstance if we consider that Simonetta lived in Florence only 7 years before succumbing to tuberculosis, on the night between 26 and 27 April 1476. She was in the prime of life. youth. And it was precisely that early death, at the age of 22, that identified her in the myth of beauty that survives over the centuries thanks to art. Botticelli gave it life in his works by portraying it from memory, several years after his death. Superb slender teenager with blue eyes and blond hair, Simonetta was born in 1453 in Genoa (or perhaps in Portovenere, or Fezzano) in an aristocratic family (her father Gaspare Cattaneo della Volta was related to the Doge of Genoa). He was 15 when he met the young Marco Vespucci in Genoa in the church of San Torpete, belonging to a family of merchants and navigators including Amerigo Vespucci, the discoverer of America. The two families, who had friendly relations with the Medici, immediately saw the interest in a marriage between the two young people.
The ceremony was lavish: Lorenzo the Magnificent and his brother Giuliano welcomed the couple in the Palazzo Medici in via Larga (now via Cavour) and organized a great party for them in the villa of Careggi. Constantly invited to court Simonetta made everyone fall in love, from Giuliano dei Medici (who became her lover) to Verrocchio, from Ghirlandaio to Filippo Lippi to Poliziano (who made her the protagonist of the Stanze della Giostra). Even today his angelic face with large melancholy eyes enchants the audience. A touching detail of its history, the Vespucci rests in the church of Ognissanti next to the remains of Sandro Botticelli, who according to legend wanted to be buried at the feet of his muse.