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THE VENUS DILEMMA: NOTES ON BOTTICELLI AND SIMONETTA CATTANEO VESPUCCI
Author(s): Ross Brooke Ettle
Source: Source: Notes in the History of Art, Vol. 27, No. 4 (Summer 2008), pp. 3-10
Published by: The University of Chicago Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/23207901
Accessed: 25-02-2017 21:42 UTC
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THE VENUS DILEMMA:

NOTES ON BOTTICELLI AND SIMONETTA CATTANEO VESPUCCI
Ross Brooke Ettle

For over a century, scholars have debated the 1469, the year of her marriage, in which
historical identity of various female figures—Genoa is mentioned as her birthplace, and her

specifically, Venus and Flora—in Botticelli'sage is given as sixteen.3 Yet this has not
Nascita di Venere and Primavera. Despitestopped speculation that Simonetta was born
the archival research of Herbert Home, who
and baptized near Portovenere, thus explain

concluded that none of them can be identified ing the absence of her name in the parish

as Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci,' art historiregister in Genoa.4 Her mother was Catocchia
ans continue to argue that Simonetta's likeSpinola, whose first marriage tied her to the
ness appears in the mythological paintings.powerful Campofregoso clan of Genoa. For
The association has its grounding in Ruskin,reasons that remain unclear, Catocchia and
who lent credence to the attribution in his Ox
her husband separated, and the wife endured
ford lectures of 1872. Since Ruskin's day, the

her husband's remarriage during her lifetime.

legend of Simonetta has endured,2 yet schol

When she herself remarried as a widow, she

arship of the past century has failed to unearth

brought both children and stepchildren to her

any new documents to validate it. This article

new household, among them Pietro II, doge
of Genoa from 1450 to 1458, and Paolo, re

addresses the arguments for and against Si
monetta's appearance in Botticelli's mytholo
gies. Although the historical documents are

scarce, there remains compelling circum

stantial evidence that links Simonetta to the

peatedly elected doge in 1462, 1463, and
1464. Gaspare Cattaneo became her husband,
and even though Catocchia was by now ad

vanced in years, she continued to bear

paintings. Having reviewed this evidence and children, the last being Simonetta.5
Violence and political intrigue were the
the basic features of Simonetta's biography,
I wish to suggest new directions for research constants of Simonetta's early life. Her half
that may bolster the circumstantial accounts. brother Pietro (by her mother's first marriage
Documents may well exist that can establish to Battista I Campofregoso) lost his life in a
Simonetta's identity in a given image; I wish brawl while serving as doge, while another
to indicate possible paper trails through half brother, Paolo (born of Battista I's

which an identification might someday be second marriage and, hence, not a blood tie),
made.

Little is known of Simonetta Cattaneo

was exiled as doge when the Genoese de
cided to become subjects of the duke of

Milan in 1464. The majority of the Campo
beyond her legend. She was apparently born
fregoso clan, and their Cattaneo relations,
in Genoa in 1453, yet even the date and
had to leave Genoa as the Sforza of Milan
location of her birth are matters of dispute.
entered the city to back up their claim with
The only surviving documentation comes

from a Florentine catasto declaration from

arms.6 The exiles chose the town of Piombino

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4

as their refuge and lived under the protection

of its lords, the Appiani. But threats re
mained. Genoa even petitioned Jacopo III
Appiani, lord of Piombino, for the arrest and
extradition of the exiles, asking in particular

that the orphaned child of Pietro II be given
up to the Sforza to raise as a member of their
own family.7

If the Campofregosi and their Cattaneo

relations chose Piombino hastily in their
escape, they chose well. The Appiani not
only protected Simonetta's extended family,
but brought the exiles' political interests into

harmony with their own. Simonetta's half
sister, Battistina (by her mother's first mar

also took the post of podesta of Milan. At
home, he won honors, including election to
the Priorate in 1463 and the opportunity to
participate in the joust organized by Lorenzo
il Magnifico in January 1469."
Vespucci arrived in Piombino in 1468 as

the captain of a galleass in service to Fer
dinand of Aragon. He saw opportunities for
himself in a marriage arranged between his
son, Marco, and Simonetta in 1468. Her

dowry, pledged by the lord of Piombino,
included income generated from the mineral
rights of an iron mine on Elba.12 So valuable
were these rights that, years later, Lorenzo il

Magnifico sought identical terms in a dowry

riage to Battista 1 Campofregoso), had

offered to his brother Giuliano by marriage to

married Jacopo III Appiani, lord of Piombino,
back in 1454, when the Campofregoso family
held the dogeship in Genoa, and the marriage

Semiramide Appiani.13 Piombino and posses
sions on the island of Elba clearly attracted

clearly allied the two cities.8 The Appiani,
therefore, took an interest in assisting their
Genoese kin, even the Cattaneo line. Simon
etta came to know many of the political allies

the Medici in their competition for resources

with the Republic of Siena. Vespucci doubt

less sought to win an advantage for his
patrons through his son's marriage tie to

Simonetta.

of the Appiani, among them the Medici of

Sadly, Piero abused his position as father
in-law. He sought not only to profit from
Simonetta's adolescent life surely taught Simonetta's wealth and connections, but he
her to adapt to political change. Her eventual even approved of, if not encouraged, his
marriage would only confirm this experience. daughter-in-law's extramarital affair with
Simonetta was initially pledged to Luigi della Giuliano de' Medici. Piero affirmed his com
Stufa, a staunch Medicean with territorial plicity in the love triangle in a letter of 1478,

Florence.

interests in the southern reaches of the

Florentine dominion. She was an unusual

choice for a Florentine with such connec

two years after Simonetta's unexpected death.
By this time, Vespucci had suffered a reversal

of fortune and had fallen under suspicion of

tions, for she was both a foreigner and kin to the Medici for his association with a killer
Genoese exiles whose status could have
involved in the Pazzi conspiracy. Imprisoned

proven a political hindrance.9 Marriage nego
in the Stinche, Piero wrote repeatedly to
tiations faltered, and Simonetta instead
Lorenzo il Magnifico for clemency and to

caught the eye of Piero Vespucci. Piero
descended from a family of Florentine

bankers who long ago had lent their political
support to the Medici.10 Outside Florence,
he served the Aragonese kings of Naples and

Lorenzo's mother, Lucrezia Tornabuoni. Ad

dressing the latter, he listed the many services

he had provided to the Medici; and, while he
may have exaggerated the extent of his deeds

to win back favor, he nevertheless revealed

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5

his betrayal of his daughter-in-law and her
family. In a letter dated January 12, 1479, he

But there remains the tantalizing line in
Piero's account of a grieving Giuliano who

sought souvenirs of his dead lover. Piero
notes the young Medici's interest in her

wrote:

If I haven t written you sooner, the reason
clothes, purchasing them and taking with
is that I've been so beaten down and

him an image in the Vespucci family's pos

bombarded and shattered by fortune andsession. Here is the one documented ac

by so many other matters, illness and
knowledgment that the Vespucci owned some
anxiety, that I've been in doubt if I am
likeness of Simonetta, whether a portrait or
even Piero Vespucci. Knowing now the
medallion or funeral mask. Art historians
good news and of the fine efforts and
have sought to match up any number of
good will of Lorenzo, my strength has
works with the aforementioned image, in
somewhat returned. . . .
cluding the famous Nascita di Venere and

When the blessed soul of your

Giuliano used to visit my home, many

times he told me in the presence of

Primavera in the Uffizi as well as the Venus

and Mars in London's National Gallery, the

profile figure by Piero di Cosimo in Chantilly,
Niccolo Martelli that he was the un
the Botticelli portrait in Frankfurt, and others.
happiest young man, not just in Florence

It is important to note at the outset that

but in Italy. And I had so much com
there

is not a shred of evidence to link Si

passion and feeling that I longed to give
monetta with any of these paintings. For just
him all those pleasures and amusements
this reason. Home argued forcefully against
and joys that Marco and I might be able
any association between Simonetta and the
to offer, as Giuliano's honesty and good
painter.15 But doubts linger, based on the
ness warranted. He [bought] Simonetta's
paintings' composition, iconography, histor

clothes [and he] deprived me of her

ical circumstance, and contemporary literary

image, Marco and I having made a great
accounts. First, with regard to composition,
profit from him. .. .
art historians have linked the landscapes in
How can it be that I am here now [in
two paintings to the Ligurian coast near
prison], having told Lorenzo many im
Portovenere. Scholars have likened the prom
portant secrets .. . taken from the lord of

Piombino's desk? ... I was in much dan

ontories behind the central figure in the

Nascita di Venere to the coastline of the Bay
ger and at great expense [on Lorenzo's
of La Spezia and the five hills of the Cinque

behalf].14

Terre to the west. Similarly, in the Chantilly

In short, Piero Vespucci gave Simonetta to

Giuliano de' Medici as a lover in return for fa

portrait, attributed to Piero di Cosimo, the

fortified town and coastline resemble that of

vors and financial benefit. Piero even went so

Portovenere, Simonetta's alleged place of

far as to spy on his in-laws in Piombino for

birth.16 Likewise, the snake of the Chantilly

the Medici and to steal documents from their

portrait might represent the subject's early

possession. In all this, Simonetta was little
more than a pawn in the struggle of three
families—Appiani, Vespucci, and Medici—
for political advantage.

death from consumption.17
The visual references in the paintings alone

cannot bear the weight of an argument that
Simonetta was the true face behind any of

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6

these works. Art historians have offered other

accounts for the snake and the coastal back

and Statius.22 It is easy, in other words, to
match the poetic or visual elements in Polizi

grounds in the pictures. But there is also ano's Stanze or Botticelli's paintings to
Simonetta, but to do so ignores the issue of
in the right place at the right time to have genre. Neither work is a literal portrait, and
caught Botticelli's eye and inspired his work. neither was imagined to portray real events or

circumstantial evidence that places Simonetta

In 1473, Simonetta was reported to have real people, living or dead. Instead, the verses
danced as one of the "Three Graces" during and paintings are accretions, new layers in a
the celebrations in Florence during the visit process of poetic invention. Buried under
of Eleanor of Aragon.18 One need only think neath these layers is the historical Simonetta.
of the Graces dancing to the left of Venus in
She is less the subject of Botticelli's painting
the Primavera to recognize a visual reference than is the legend that grew up around her.
So how can we find Simonetta? For, ac
to this earlier episode that won Simonetta

considerable attention from male admirers.

cording to the documents, there is some

Botticelli certainly already knew of Simon image of her to be found. First, art historians
etta in the 1470s, for he lived in her neighbor might be well served to consider the pos

hood and kept his workshop on the same sibility that the image that Giuliano carried
away after Simonetta's death in 1476 was
santi.19 Various tax declarations place his something other than a painting. The beauty's
residence alongside a collateral branch of likeness may have been captured in a medal

street as her home, near the church of Ognis

the Vespucci, while Piero's own branch lived or miniature, given her popularity in Florence
just down the block.20
since the time of the joust in 1475, or perhaps
Beyond iconography and circumstance, in a mortuary mask.23 Second, I would urge
the most compelling argument in favor of scholars of Botticelli to return to the thread
Simonetta's likeness in Botticelli's works
left by Home's research on Botticelli docu
comes from Charles Dempsey, who offeredments.
a
Home never located the original
literary reading of the Primavera as a visual
notary's copy for either the Nascita di Venere
invention of classical and vernacular poetic
or the Primavera, yet it is clear from the doc
works.21 According to Dempsey, the Prima
uments he consulted that he never began a
vera was a final step in a process of ideation
paper trace through the Notarile, or notarial
archive, held in the State Archive of Florence.
that began in verse and continued in paint. By
choosing Simonetta as one of his subjects,To do so, one would need to know the

Botticelli borrowed from literature, specifi
original commissioner of the works, and
cally the Stanze cominciate per la giostra di
there is considerable dispute about this. John
Giuliano de' Medici of Poliziano, but also
Shearman most recently established that the

from the conventions of vernacular love

works were not commissioned by Pier

poetry from Latini and Dante to Boccacciofrancesco de' Medici for the villa at Castello,
that required a "real life" beloved to representas was once thought, and inventories only
an abstract idea of love itself. Poliziano, too,
place the Primavera in Medici possession
had seized on Simonetta as a cipher both to
after 1499.24 But the family might have ac
flatter his Medici patrons and to adorn her inquired the image from another original owner

an excess of classical references, includingin that period in the same manner that
Lucretius, Ovid, Horace, Propertius, Seneca,Giuliano took possession of Simonetta's

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7

exist in the archive of the hospital of San
Giovanni di Dio. Founded in 1380, this

image from Piero Vespucci. In order to locate

this original image, one need only identify
Piero Vespucci's notary through a careful ex

hospital remained under direct patronage of

amination of the family papers.

the Vespucci into the fifteenth century, when

scarce. The last surviving branch of the Ves

its administration passed to the Capitani del
Bigallo. Nevertheless, the Vespucci continued

pucci directly tied to Piero left some goods to

to support the institution; and since so much

a nephew, named Colocci, in Iesi. Family

of their family property was built up around
the hospital itself, the division of family and

Papers associated with Piero's line are

documents, however, did not pass to this heir.

hospital space was indistinct. Since the

Similarly, the papers of a Piero Vespucci in

the State Archive in Florence fail to match the

family oversaw the operations of the hospital

correct dates.25 A copied document in the

up to Piero's day, one can imagine that their

papers were kept alongside those of the

Library of Congress did name one notary for

Piero Vespucci in a contract for a naval
command dated to 1464. The notary who
executed the document was Ser Amerigo

hospital. The archive at San Giovanni di Dio
has no index for the fifteenth-century mate

rial, however, nor is there even an in-house

Vespucci, a kinsman from the same neighbor

catalogue of the manuscripts.28 There is much
work to be done to isolate the relevant

hood of Ognissanti.26 However, Amerigo's

notarial documents housed in the State

Vespucci material in the hospital archive.
Archive of Florence end with the year 1468,
In conclusion, we have good reason to
when Amerigo died.27 Piero must have taken
associate the figures from Botticelli's paint
his legal business to another notary at that
ings with the legend of Simonetta. However,
in the absence of documents, art historians
time. Unfortunately, Simonetta only entered

the Vespucci household in 1468, so any
cannot yet speak definitively of a portrait.
artistic commission for her portrait would
Although Piero Vespucci mentions an image
come after this time. It is impossible, there
of his daughter-in-law, its form and function
fore, to link Piero to a work by Botticelliremain
or
unclear. I suggest that further research
any other painter through a contract drawn in
up the Vespucci family papers will bear fruit
by Amerigo. The notary for any artistic com
in the ongoing effort to identify the elusive
missions after 1468 remains unknown.
image of "la bella Simonetta" and ultimately

A final possibility for locating documents
related to Piero Vespucci's commission may

guide scholars to the notarial documents in
question.

NOTES
1. Herbert Home, Botticelli, Painter of Florence
(1908; repr. Princeton: Princeton University Press,
1980), p. 52.
2, John Ruskin, Ariadne Florentina: Six Lectures

on Wood and Metal Engraving; The Elements of
Drawing and Perspective; The Deucalion, etc. (New
York: Belford, Clark, 1880-1889), pp. 158-159n. For

a discussion of Ruskin and later critics who endorsed

the attribution, see Charles Dempsey, The Portrayal
of Love: Botticelli's "Primavera" and Humanist Cul
ture at the Time of Lorenzo the Magnificent (Princeton:

Princeton University Press, 1992), pp. 117-120.
3. Archivio Colocci, Iesi (hereafter ACI), fil. 311,
ins. 4, nn. The catasto declaration is Santa Maria No
vella, Unicorno, vol. II, c. 243. Biographical materials
in the Iesi collection draw on a nineteenth-century ac

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1901), pp. 130-140, based on Milanese diplomatic
the family history by Passerini in the Biblioteca correspondence, including the more neutral treatment
Nazionale Centrale di Firenze (hereafter BNCF).
by Donato da Milano, Milanese envoy to Francesco
If Simonetta were indeed born in Genoa, then her
Sforza, announcing the news of the Campofregosi's
baptismal records were probably lost in 1684, when departure on 18 Mar. 1464 (pp. 275-276).
7. Cardarelli, LC, Vespucci, box 5, ins. 13, c. 16,
the Cattaneo's parish church of San Torpete was de

count in the Biblioteca Nazionale di Torino as well as

stroyed during bombing by the French fleet of Louis

cites a letter in the ASG, Instructiones et relationes,
2707A, n. 174.

corte dei Medici (Turin: Bollati Boringhieri, 2001), p.

8. After almost a year of negotiations, Battistina's
brother, Pietro II, arranged for his representatives to
offer a dowry of 4,000 Genoese lire. Genoese officials
finally concluded and recognized the marriage in Nov.

XIV. See Rachele Farina, Simonetta: Una donna alia
15.

4. Farina (ch. 1) identifies the Cattaneo family villa

in Fezzano, near Portovenere, as Simonetta's birth

place. Because documents in Genoa fail to list Si
monetta's birth, Farina assumes that the girl was born
out of town. She notes, for instance, a Cattaneo fam

ily tree in the Archivio di Stato di Genova (hereafter
ASG), Raccolta Longhi, 434 (cited on p. 15), that lists
all the children except Simonetta, who was born last.

See also Bonarroti's Familie genovesi, among the
manuscripts of the Biblioteca Comunale di Genova,
where Simonetta's name fails to appear.
A dissertation by J. H. Graham also argues for Por
tovenere as the correct birthplace but offers no addi

tional documentation. See Graham's published
version, La bella Simonetta (Xlibris, 2002), pp. 37
38.

5. Romualdo Cardarelli assembled the best syn
thesis of known documents relating to the Spinola/
Campofregoso/Cattaneo intermarriages in his research
for German Arcienegas, a diplomat and biographer of
Amerigo Vespucci. These papers are now held in the
Library of Congress (hereafter LC), Vespucci, box 5,
insert 13, cc. 3-6. My account relies on Cardarelli's

deductions as well as some biographical elements

from BNCF, Passerini, 176 bis.
Passerini incorrectly notes that Catocchia Spinola
died in 1418 presumably as a way of explaining her
husband's remarriage in 1420. Further research in the

1454. See ASG, Litterarum, vol. XV, 1865; see also
Cardarelli, LC, Vespucci, box 5, ins. 13, 22.

9. Delia Stufa ultimately wed Guglielmina Schi
anteschi, chatelaine of the feudal territory of Calcione.

On his biography before marriage, see Catherine V.

De Luca, "Guglielmina Schianteschi (1463-1536): A

Tuscan Countess and Florentine Citizen" (Ph.D. diss.,
University of California at Riverside, 2004), 43-50.
10. Piero di Giuliano di Piero Vespucci was born
in 1432 and married Caterina dei Benci, with whom
he had four children, including one son, Marco. On
the Vespucci family history, see Farina, pp. 30-36, as
well as the various works of German Arcienegas, who
wrote on both Amerigo Vespucci and Simonetta. Ar
cienegas's papers are held in the LC in ten boxes, as
part of the Vespucci collection. Most of his biograph
ical material is drawn from the Archivio di Stato di

Firenze (hereafter ASF). Farina relies exclusively on
Passerini's papers in the BNCF.

11. The Priorate was Vespucci's highest office,
though he also served in the other colleges of the Tre

Maggiori. See Florentine Renaissance Resources: On
line Tratte of Office Holders, 1282-1532, machine

readable data file, ed. David Herlihy, R. Burr
Litchfield, Anthony Molho, and Roberto Barducci
(Providence, R.I.: Brown University, Florentine Re
Genoese archives is needed to examine the remar
naissance Resources/STG, 2002).
riages of Catocchia and Battista I Campofregoso.
On Vespucci's participation in the joust, see Luigi
6. For a hostile treatment of the Campofregosi's
Pulci's poetic account in Morgante e opere minori, ed.
financial and political leadership, see Agostino Giu
Aulo Greco, 2 vols. (Turin: UTET, 1997), II, p. 1336.
stiniani, Annali della Repubblica di Genova (1537;
See also the letters of Pulci mentioning Vespucci's loy
repr. Bologna: Forni, 1981), CCXIX, r-v. The Giu
alty and service to Lorenzo, in Luigi Pulci, Morgante
e lettere, ed. Domenico de Robertis (Florence: San
stiniani supported the Milanese in their takeover. On
soni, 1962), XVI: 963, XIX: 968, and XXXV: 991.
the financial realities in the city, including the extent
of the doge's personal expenditure in the 1460s, see 12. Jacopo III Appiani had purchased the mineral
Mario Buongiorno, II bilancio di uno stato medievale:rights from the Magonesi, private partnerships that ad
Genova, 1340-1529 (Genoa: Istituto di Paleografia e
ministered to colonial possessions and incomes for the

city of Genoa, alongside the Banco di San Giorgio.
Storia Medievale, 1973), pp. 290-305.
See also the account of Albano Sorbelli, Francesco
On Simonetta's marriage, he ordered the income from
Sforza a Genova (1458-1466) (Bologna: Zanichelli,an iron mine on Elba to be paid directly to the

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9

Vespucci family. The dowry is kept in the ASG, Atti di
Giovanni da Nova, fil. 2, n. 887; noted in Achille Neri,

"La Simonetta," Giornale storico della letteratura
italiana 3, no. 5 (1885): 131.
On the Magonesi and their monopoly over salt and
mineral rights in Liguria, see Emilio Marengo, Camil
lo Manfroni, and Giuseppe Pessagno, II Banco di San

16. August Schmarsow, Sandro del Botticello, 2nd
ed. (Dresden: Reissner, 1923), argued for Portovenere,
while Farina, p. 84, identified the Gulf of La Spezia as
the more probable location.
In the case of the Chantilly portrait, Graham, pp.
99-107, has called the identification with Portovenere

into question, noting that by Simonetta's day the cas
tle there had been destroyed.
17. Home, p. 54, also disavowed the attribution of
the Chantilly portrait to Simonetta, arguing instead,
310-315.
after Vasari, that the picture was a Sangallo commis
13. Lorenzo asked his marriage brokers to arrangesion by Piero di Cosimo of Cleopatra. Most subsequent
art historiography has followed Home, including Mina
a dowry "along the lines of Simonetta's" ("sulla trac

Giorgio (Genoa: Donath, 1911), pp. 179-192; see also
Giuseppe Gallo, La Repubblica di Genova tra nobili
e popolari: 1257-1528 (Genoa: De Ferrari, 1997), pp.

cia di Simonetta"). See Lorenzo de' Medici, Lettere,Bacci, Piero di Cosimo (Milan: Bramante, 1966), pp.
II: 1474-1478, ed. Riccardo Fubini (Florence: Giunti,67-68, and Sharon Fermor, Piero di Cosimo: Fiction,
Invention, and Fantasia (London: Reaktion, 1993), p.
1977), p. 300. Cardarelli's research in LC, Vespucci,
93n.
box 5, ins. 13, 24, shows that marriage negotiations
were protracted, lasting until Dec. 1476, according to For an alternative identification of the Chantilly por
documents consulted in the Archivio di Stato di Siena,
trait with the literary figure of Boccaccio's Lady Fi
ammetta, see Edward J. Olszewski, "Piero di Cosimo's
Concistoro, 1691, c. 230r.
Semiramide ultimately wed Lorenzo di Pier Lady Fiammetta," SOURCE: Notes in the History of
francesco de' Medici in 1482, and some scholars haveArt 21, no. 2 (Winter 2002):6-12.
come to attribute the commission of the Primavera to
18. Poliziano immortalized the scene for posterity,
the occasion of the marriage. On the date of the Prias discussed by Attilio Simioni, "Donne ed amori
medicei," Nuova Antologia ser. V, vol. 135 (1908):687;
mavera and for a discussion of possible patrons, see
see also Farina, pp. 46^-7.
Dempsey, p. 23.

14. ASF, Mediceo avanti il Principato, fil. 88, 19. See the tax declaration of Mariano di Vanni Fi

lipepi in 1480, reprinted in Home, pp. 350-351.
247r-v. The manuscript is badly damaged and illegi
ble in some areas: "... se prima non ho scritto ne stato 20. Ibid., p. 360.
chagione che io son stato tanto perchosso e tempes 21. Specifically, the author identifies the figure of
tato e fracasato dalla fortuna e di tante varie cose e di Flora in the Primavera with Simonetta. See Dempsey,
malattie e di affanni che io sono stato in dubio se io ero
pp. 130-131.

Piero Vespucci. Intendendo ora buone novelle e di 22. On the abundance of references, see the intro
duction to Angelo Poliziano, The Stanze of Angelo
buona pare e di buono afetto di Lorenzo m'e tomato
Poliziano, trans. David Quint (Amherst: University of
alquanto le forze. . . . Quando la benedetta anima di
Massachusetts Press, 1979), pp. xii-xiii.
Giuliano usava mi casa piu volte mi disse alia presenze
di Nicholo Martelli era il peggio chontento giovane Lines in the Stanze that evoke Botticelli's Prima
nonche di firenze ma ditalia ed io n'ebi tanta chon
vera include verses 43 and 47, pp. 22 and 24: "Can
passione e dolore che io diserando darelli tutti quellidida la vesta, / ma pur di rose e fior dipinta e d'erba";
piaceri e spassi e chontenti che per Marcho e per me "e ghirlandetta avea contesta / di quanti fior creassi
si pote fare chome meritava la sua buona onesta e gen mai natura, / de' quai tutta dipinta era sua vesta." Sim
tilezza. Lui chonpra [. . .] ogni vestimento della Siilarly, lines evocative of the Nascita di Venere include
monetta, privatomi della sua imagine avere fattoverses 51 and 53, pp. 26 and 28: "mia natal patria e' in

Marcho ed io un gran chapitale di lui.... Chome puoaspra Liguria"; "meraviglia di mie bellezze tenere /

essere che io sia dove sono avendo datto a Lorenzo

non prender gia', che io nacqui in grembo a Venere."

molti segreti importanti . . . fatto torre dallo scrittoio 23. Indeed, Megan Holmes, "Disrobing the Virgin:
de singniore di pionbino . .. fumi di pericholo assai e The Madonna Lactans in Fifteenth-Century Floren

di spesa...

tine Art," in Picturing Women in Renaissance and

15. In the absence of documentation, Home (p. 53) Baroque Italy, ed. G. Johnson and S. Grieco (Cam
relied on stylistic analysis to date the Primavera and bridge, Eng.: Cambridge University Press, 1997), pp.
the Nascita di Venere to a time after Simonetta's death
167-195, argues for the existence of a death mask to
explain how Piero di Cosimo, who was only fourteen
to prove that she could not have sat for a portrait.

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10

years old when Simonetta died, painted the dead

Archivio storico dell'arte 2nd series (1897):322, in

beauty's likeness later in life in the Chantilly portrait.
24. John Shearman, "The Collections of the

questioning a commission by the Medici.

25. ASF, Gherardi Piccolimi d'Aragona, fil. 709

11.
Younger Branch of the Medici," Burlington Magazine
117 (1975): 12—27. See also W. Smith, "On the Origi
26. LC, Vespucci, box 5, ins. 3, nn.

nal Location of the 'Primavera,'" Art Bulletin 57 27. ASF, Notarile Antecosimiano, v. 296 (Ser
(1975):31-39. Shearman followed the suggestion
Amerigo
of
Vespucci, atti dal 1458 al 1468), ins. 6.
Aby Warburg, Sandro Botticellis Geburt der Venus und
28. A published inventory covers the seventeenth
FrUhling: Eine Untersuchung iiber die Vorstellungen
century onward. See Lucia Sandri, ed., L'Archivio

von der Antike in den Italienischen FrUhrenaissance

(Hamburg: Voss, 1893), p. 23n, and Emil Jacobsen,

dell'Ospedale di San Giovanni di Dio di Firenze
(1604-1981): Inventario, 2 vols. (Milan: Fatebene

"Allegoria della Primavera di Sandro Botticelli,"

fratelli, 1991-2004).

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