Sunday, December 13, 2009

Sandro Botticelli: Simonetta Vespucci

Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Nymph by Sandro Botticelli
Simonetta Vespucci (Städel Museum, Frankfurt) 

'Idealized Portrait of a Lady' or 'Portrait of Simonetta Vespucci as Nymph' by Sandro Botticelli (ca. 1445-1510). Circa 1480,  82 x 54 cm. It's one of the largest 15th century female portraits. She is wearing a hairstyle that can typically be seen on nymphs. The pearls in her hair and braids can also be linked to the nymphs.

Simonetta was born Simonetta Cattaneo in 1453 or 1454. At age fifteen or sixteen she married Marco Vespucci, a distant relative of the famous explorer and cartographer Amerigo Vespucci. She became a prominent member of the Medici circle. She was considered to be the greatest beauty in Florence. At a jousting tournament in 1475 she was nominated 'regina della bellezza', queen of the beauty, by Giuliano de Medici. She died in 1476, probably from TB. She was buried in the parish church of the Vespuccio; the Church of Ognissanti in Florence. When Botticelli died in 1510 he was buried near her in the same church.

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