Tag Archives: Sandro Botticelli

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FLORENCE : SIMONETTA CATTANEO

Alyssa Palombo’s book THE MOST BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IN FRANCE strikingly captures the dangerous allure of the bond between artist and muse with delicacy, candour and unforgettable passion.

Palombo is also the author of The Violinist of Venice. She has published short fiction pieces in Black Lantern Magazine and The Great Lakes Review. A recent graduate of Canisius College she holds degrees in English and creative writing. A passionate music lover, she is a classically trained musician as well as a big fan of heavy metal. She currently resides in Buffalo, New York.

Divided into three sections, the book opens in Genoa where Simonetta Cattaneo was born and lived. She is believed to be the model for some of Sandro Botticelli’s finest paintings, including The Birth of Venus. 

She was married to Marco Vespucci of Florence in 1469 at the age of sixteen and moved there upon her marriage. Even before her betrothal with Marco was official, Simonetta was drawn into Lorenzo and Giuliano de’ Medici’s glittering circle of politicians, poets, artists, and philosophers.

The men of Florence―most notably the rakish, rather sinister Giuliano de’ Medici―become enthralled with her beauty. That she is educated and an ardent reader of poetry makes her even more desirable and fashionable …

Florence, however, does not really agree with Simonetta as she eventually keeps on becoming ill. She suffers from recurring mysterious fevers – it turns out Simonetta unknowingly developed TB.

The book follows Simonetta’s tragically short life as she is wooed by the promise of life in artistic, learned Florence, befriended by the mighty Medici family and then moves in the top echelons of Florentine society, what we would now call the A-list, and is given the mixed blessing of being declared the most beautiful woman in Florence.

Simonetta’s unhappy marriage to Marco is well described. The developments of art, music and culture are also mentioned – Donatello’s David , the works of Fra Filip Lippi the amazing dome at the cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore, as designed by Brunelleschi.

Simonetta’s story is a poignantly sad one, but also strikingly feminist as she fights to be acknowledged for her sharp mind and education (she is bookish and intelligent with a very inquiring mind) and scorns the attention paid to her because of her astonishing good looks. It is Botticelli who sees past her looks to the curious and thoughtful woman within, and through that relationship with him she is immortalised in some of the most treasured works of the Renaissance .

Breaking all convention, Simonetta agrees to pose for Botticelli leading to the creation of his famous The Birth of Venus. Do the two become lovers?  Or is it a chaste affair following the rules of courtly love of the time?

You will have to read the book to find out. Boticelli asked to be buried at Simonetta Vespucci’s feet, in the Chiesa di San Salvatore di Ognissanti, where he remains to this day, makes this an even more seductive love story.

Though little is known of her real life, this story gathers what facts do exist to build a lyrical , fascinating and compelling narrative that is not just a love story. This is an enchanting book that captivates and makes you want to dash to the Uffizzi Gallery.
IBSN: 9781925481167

  • Format: Trade Paperback
    Pub Date: 26/04/2017
  • Category: Fiction & related items / Historical romance
    Fiction & related items / Historical fiction
  • Imprint: Macmillan Australia
  • Pages: 320
  • Price: $29.99

 

BOTTICELLI INFERNO : BOTTICELLI’S PAINTING OF DANTE’S VISION OF HELL

Featured image – Director Ralph Loop at an event for the film.

“Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.” Dante

This is a  fascinating, intense examination of Sandro Botticelli’s (1445- 1510) famous work that jumps from the Vatican to Florence, Berlin, London and the Scottish lowlands.

The film is directed by Ralph Loop, who also has an expert, an Italian historian who knows the city of Florence in the Renaissance period to enthusiastically narrate part of the film. As well there are interviews with the Directors of the various galleries.

The film examines the history of one of Botticelli’s famous works : the illustrations he produced based on Dante’s Divine Comedy and particularly concentrates on The Inferno and his depiction of the nine levels of, and the map of the descent, into Hell, as described by Dante. In contrast, we also see his vision of Paradise. Continue reading BOTTICELLI INFERNO : BOTTICELLI’S PAINTING OF DANTE’S VISION OF HELL