Portraits and masks in the art of Lorenzo de' Medici, Botticelli, and Politian's 'Stanze per la Giostra.'.
Although nothing about Lorenzo is without controversy, the prevailing view is that Lasca was right in saying that it was he who adapted and artistically refined the pre-existing traditions within polished and more sophisticated poetical and musical forms that were, in Lasca's words, "more beautiful, well made, and well ordered." Having found the traditional festival songs always the same, Lorenzo sought to vary "not only the canti but also their inventions and the way the words were composed." In this way the canzoni lost their monotony and came to be written "with varied and different rhythms, and music composed for them with new and diverse airs." Moreover, Lasca's claim is supported by a letter of 1491 written by Lorenzo himself to Pietro Alamanni in Rome, promising to send him some canti composed by Heinrich Isaac "in diverse manners, et gravi et dolci et ropti et artificiosi."(4) Lorenzo is no doubt referring to laude as well as canti, both of which Isaac set to music, and which really are two sides to the same coin and often sung to the same music. This appears from frequent manuscript annotations on the pattern of Cantasi come. An example is that for the lauda "Quanto e grande la bellezza / di te Vergin santa e pia," directing "Cantasi come la canzona di Bacco" (the famous canto di carro that begins with the words "Quanto e bella giovinezza / che si fugge tuttavia").(5) However, it is also clear that neither Lorenzo nor Lasca are referring merely to the simpler repetitive forms of popular versifying and street singing that had been transmitted in the old traditions passed down by the canterini, or street singers. They refer to music and poetry arising from such a popular base to be sure, but also to forms of art that are more highly refined, and indeed professionalized.
The new mascherate with their freshly composed canzoni and music are characterized by a transformation and artistic ennobling of the arts and traditions of civic celebration in a way that coincides with Lorenzo's cultural ambitions as stated both in the prefatory letter to the Raccolta Aragonese and in the Comento he wrote to his own sonnets.(6) In both Lorenzo invoked the example of ancient Roman trionfi - with their richly decorated triumphal cars, their sculptures, trophies, lavishly ornamented theaters, and with their publicly-sponsored oratorical and poetic competitions - as being praiseworthy for giving nourishment to the arts and bringing honor to the city. "For this alone," he wrote, "were designed the carri, the triumphal arches, the theatrical displays and funeral laudations."(7) (One inevitably thinks of those poetic competitions among Florentine writers inspired by Albiera degli Albizzi's death in 1473, and Simonetta Vespucci's in 1476, to which Lorenzo himself contributed four sonnets.) The ancient spectacles and certamina merited emulation as providing spurs to competing poets, orators, and artists, offering opportunities to them to acquire personal honor by stimulating a new and higher perfection in their individual performances. The result would be a rise in general culture - the collective honor - of the city. Regarding language and literature in particular, Lorenzo claimed that
the richness and ornaments of our vernacular tongue will be esteemed, and this language not be reputed poor and rough, but will be seen to be abundant and highly polished; anything gentle, florid, lovely and ornamented, anything witty, distinguished, ingenious and subtle, anything lofty, magnificent and sonorous, and finally anything ardent, spirited and excited can be expressed.(8)
Accordingly, "from our time the Tuscan tongue will never again be scorned as being poorly ornamented and lacking in richness."(9) Needless to say, the same goal also holds for stimulating public competition in the other arts.
It is well to remember that Lasca's collection of canti was not limited to carnival songs alone, but claimed in its title to be a collection of all the "Trionfi, Carri, Mascherate o Canti carnascialeschi" performed in Florence from the time of Lorenzo to the year 1559. Many of the canti he collected take as their point of departure the tradesmen's songs sung by groups of masked singers walking the streets of Florence during Carnevale, and which take as their themes the activities of the various mestieri and are rich with obscene double-entendres. However, others are canzoni di carro that describe parade cars based on literary and classical inventions of a type more often associated with the celebration of visits by distinguished foreigners or such feasts as Calendimaggio. Such trionfi were devised as quasi-theatrical displays centered around parade cars accompanied by musicians, singers and dancers who did not literally wear masks but were in costume - or a "disguisement" in the older English usage, to which Bishop Hall referred when he wrote of what he called the first English court masque, occurring the night of Epiphany in 1512, just twenty years after the death of Lorenzo de' Medici. That night "the king with a xi other were disguised, after the maner of Italie, called a maske, a thyng not sene before in Englande."(10)
It is also well known that Lasca was collecting poetry that was specially written, set to music (sometimes more than once, by different composers), and performed by experienced singers. This appears especially in his well-known report that Heinrich Isaac (whose music for canti we have seen Lorenzo de' Medici sending to Pietro Alamanni in 1491), "Master of the Choir of San Lorenzo and a musician highly esteemed in those days," composed music - and in three voices (i.e. certainly for trained singers) - for Lorenzo's canzona de' confortini, which Lasca calls the first to have been written by him. Although evidence is scant regarding the authors of the earliest canzoni, it is significant that among the few written in Lorenzo's lifetime for which authorship can be surely established, eleven are by Lorenzo himself, one by his brother-in-law Bernardo Rucellai, and one by either Politian or Agnolo Dovizi da Bibbiena.(11) Notwithstanding the popolaresco tone and address of most (but not all) of these canzoni, their forms are highly sophisticated, and certainly none of their authors is describable as popolaresco. Rather, as Lasca writes of the new mascherate invented by Lorenzo:
The inventions were noble, and accessible; the words clear and spirited; the music lively and expansive; the voices sonorous and united; the costumes [i.e. the disguisements] rich, gay, appropriate to the invention, and made without stinting the cost; the parade apparatuses and furnishings adapted for them were built with mastery and painted beautifully; and the horses, when there was need of them, were very beautiful, and well caparisoned.
Contemporary witnesses indeed confirm Lasca's account of the changing standards for such spectacles. On 20 February 1490, for example, Filippo da Gagliano wrote to Niccolo Michelozzi:
We are waiting to enjoy this Carnevale, which would be colder than the north wind were it not for the [Compagnia della] Stella led by Mariottazio, which is staging a great mummer's parade tomorrow with seven trionfi of the seven planets [trionfo being synonymous with a carro], with a thousand beautiful things and inventions by the hand of the master.(12)
Four days later Piero Dovizi da Bibbiena wrote to Michelozzi, telling him, "We have done with the maschere, and are shut up here in a house filled with many beautiful ladies . . . I intend to send you by the first courier the canzoni composed by Lorenzo, and they will seem marvelous to you, even though they are carnascialeschi, because the invention is new and beautiful."(13) On the basis of manuscript evidence, we know that two of the canzoni by Lorenzo accompanying the trionfi were the Canzona de' sette pianeti and the immortal Canzona di Bacco (neither of which are, properly speaking, canti carnascialeschi, but instead canzoni di carro, or descriptions of carri with no obscene plays on words nor any reference to the traditional arti and mestieri).(14) For the Feast of San Giovanni in the following year, 1491, the Compagnia della Stella also managed the decoration of the cars representing the Triumph of Aemilius Paulus, based on Lorenzo's invention, and for which he officially supplied the horses and oxen. An engraving of this subject [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 1 OMITTED], which must date close to 1491 and may record a design by Filippino Lippi for this trionfo, suggests something of in appearance, though it should be treated with caution in that, like the trionfo itself, it too is an imaginative representation of a classical subject.(15) According to Vasari the inventions for this mascherata were "bellissimi," and he adds that Francesco Granacci, who was then a student in Lorenzo's sculpture garden at San Marco, won praise for his paintings decorating the carri, even though he was still very young.(16) Moreover, we know that Lorenzo's Canzona delle cicale was performed with a carro for Carnevale in 1489, the year before the trionfi of the Seven Planets;(17) and that for Carnevale of the year before that, in 1488, a Canzona del carro of the Nymphs and Poets was sung.(18) Even though the author of this canzone is unknown, the tide is enough to show that it was not a traditional carnival song, but instead was inspired by classical poetic themes of the kind accompanying many trionfi, such as Lorenzo's Canzona di Bacco and Canzona de' sette pianeti.
Though incomplete, this is an impressive list of mascherate, and includes every year from the resumption of civic celebrations in 1488, after a ten-year hiatus caused by the catastrophe of the Pazzi conspiracy and the wars that followed, up to Lorenzo's death in April of 1492. Enough has been said to indicate that the level of artistic performance in the invention and decoration of the floats, and certainly in the composing of the canzoni and the music that went with them (not to mention the performance and singing of that music), was extremely high. It included music not only by Isaac but also other professional composers, poetry not only by Lorenzo de' Medici but also other skilled poets, and decoration not only by Filippino Lippi and Granacci but other artists too. (One also thinks of the banners earlier painted by Verrocchio and Botticelli for Lorenzo's and Giuliano's jousts in 1469 and 1475.)
We know much less about the origin of Lorenzo's intervention in the planning of festival celebrations and his transformation of them into some new form of mascherata. However, Politian's mention of Lorenzo's laude and canti (carmina festis/excipienda choris) in his Nutricia of 1486 certainly places his writing of festival canzoni before that date.(19) Indeed, Luigi Pulci, in a letter of 22 March 1466, sent with the canzone Da poi che Zauro to Lorenzo in Rome, refers to his seventeen-year-old patron's pleasure in masquerading in words put into the mouth of his lover Lucrezia Donati:(20)
Quante fui esca et facie, quando e' faciea pur feste et nuovi advisi! Di che sovente gia meco sorrisi allor che tutto trasformato apparve, et con sue certe larve credea ad me simular non esser desso. Ha, puro amante! hor non conosch'io appresso rose adamasche o mammole vihole?(21)
And Pulci again refers back to the same period in his La giostra di Lorenzo de' Medici, completed in 1474, where he writes of the young Lorenzo consoling himself by writing poetry, inventing lovers' devices, and staging dances and nightime masquerades in order to entertain Lucrezia:
E si dolea, ma con parole honeste; poi comincio a tentar nuove arte e ingegni, e or cavagli, hor fantasie, hot veste mutar nuovi pensier', divise e segni, e hor far balli, e or nocturne feste (e che cosa e questo Amor non insegni?), e molte volte al suo bel sole apparve, per compiacergli, con mentite larve.(22)
Although this does not give evidence for Lorenzo's formal invention of public mascherate, it does give some sense of their origins in the feste of his brigata. Such a party is described in a remarkable letter written by Braccio Martelli to Lorenzo in 1465, reporting of a visit to Lucrezia's villa and how she and members of the brigata listened to Lorenzo's love poems sung to music played by the lutenist Il Spagnuolo. They danced the gioiosa, the chirintana, and the moresca, and at one point one of the brigata emerged from a room travestito in one of Lucrezia's own dresses.(23) So far as canti carnascialeschi themselves are concerned, for solid internal reasons the canzona de' confortini is datable before 1478 (the year of the Pazzi Conspiracy), and very possibly as early as 1474 (ten years before Isaac's arrival in Florence in 1484, only after which could he have set it to new music).(24) A letter from Piero Cennini to Pirrino Amerino describing the Feast of San Giovanni in 1475 is highly suggestive because of its description of boys on stilts hidden beneath the effigies of giants painted on paper, or appearing as spiritelli roaming the city together with fauns and centaurs:
The sprites were of more than one kind: one type was outfitted with a bow and quiver in the manner of a nymph, or brandishing a spear; another was dressed as a species of angel wearing on his head a shining skull-cap as a halo, with wings suspended from both shoulders; another was completely nude, with wings at the shoulders and winged sandals attached to his feet. The fauns were hairy and had goats' feet, the centaurs seemed to be half horses, and painted paper [charta picta] completed what otherwise would be lacking in these animated effigies.(25)
The classical imagery Cennini describes irresistably calls to mind images like Baccio Baldini's engraving of The Triumph of Bacchus and Ariadne in a car drawn by centaurs and accompanied by fauns and nymphs, dating to around 1475 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 2 OMITTED]. This engraving in turn is reminiscent of Lorenzo de' Medici's canzona di Bacco (though it does not correspond to any of the cars described by Cennini), so much so that it prompts the speculation whether this canzone might not have been written in the mid-1470s, despite the claim made in two manuscripts that both the Canzona di Bacco and the Canzona de' sette pianeti andarono in maschera nel 14.(26) Bacchus is not one of the seven planets, however, and so one may well wonder whether Lorenzo actually composed this canzona for a trionfo devoted to one of the planets, or whether he first wrote it as a canzona di carro for some earlier Triumph of Bacchus, and that it was again sung at the later date.
Speculation aside, Baldini's engraving is useful as a guide to assessing the value of artistic images as representations of actuality, in this case civic mascherate. His trionfo, for example, does not entirely aim to represent a parade float as it actually appeared, not only because the gods' nudity is real and not feigned, but also because the centaurs and fauns are "real" and not masked paraders whose costumes have been supplemented by painted paper cutouts. At the same time, the form of Bacchus's car is hardly ancient but clearly takes as its point of departure parade edifizi the artist had actually seen and experienced at first hand. The value of the engraving as a work of art - that is, as itself an imaginative representation, but one based in popular experience - derives from what it tells us about the place that the imagery of such civic rituals held in the public imagination, popular as well as aristocratic (to which Richard Trexler and Pierre Francastel have been especially alert, although a lively historical discussion continues about the social and political inferences to be drawn from Lorenzo's interventions in the major urban feasts).(27) If we now turn, however, to a particular set of artistic representations of triumphs ubiquitous in manuscript illuminations, tapestries, deschi da parto (birth trays), cassoni, engravings, and domestic paintings of the Quattrocento - namely illustrations to Petrarch's Trionfi - which all depict one or another of those Triumphs in ways that certainly reflect the imagery of the actual edifizi built for Florentine festivals, something significant emerges about the kinds of dress worn for these celebrations, and about their evolution into "disguisements," i.e. quasi-theatrical costumes specifically designed for mascherate.
We may begin with a miniature of The Triumph of Love from a manuscript of Petrarch's Trionfi e canzoniere [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 3 OMITTED], dating from the 1440s, that shows a relatively simple carro carrying a nude spiritello d'Amore (shown as a living infant, though in real edifizi he would often have been made of painted wood or papier mache), shooting flaming arrows. Fashionably dressed men and women walk in attendance upon Love's chariot, and although they present themselves as subjects to Love, they neither portray nor are imagined as the literary and historical lovers named by Petrarch. They are instead young Florentines promenading in their best and most up-to-date clothes. The same appears from a desco da parto in the Galleria Sabauda in Turin, dating from the 1450s [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 4 OMITTED], in which we see a more elaborated version of Love's chariot. The carro is decorated with rich brocades and fur hangings, and it is followed by a cortege of noble young ladies and youths even more elegantly dressed than before, in clothes that now unmistakeably represent the new French courtly fashions. Especially noticeable are the tall hennins worn by the women, hats designed with twin peaks (a coma or a sella, as the Italians called them), their richly embroidered gowns (cioppe) and cloaks (giornee), as well as the fur-lined hats worn by the men, set with pearls that spell out lovers' mottos in the chivalric French manner. A nascent theatrical motif is introduced by the two women (who again appear in another desco da parto in the Victoria and Albert Museum, [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 5 OMITTED]), who are also in contemporary dress but who act the roles of the courtesan Phyllis riding on Aristotle's back and Delilah shearing Samsons hair. It would be easy to imagine both figures in actual parades played by real persons, either women or uomini travestiti, whose aspect is supplemented, as Cennini put it, by charta picta, that is, painted paper cutouts of Aristotle and Samson. This nascent theatrical element is soon to be developed substantially, as we find in Baccio Baldini's engraving of the Triumph of Love from the mid-1470s [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 6 OMITTED] in which there again appear women in fashionable French dress wearing the twin-peaked hennin, but the men instead appear in a species of costume. Some wear extravagantly ornamented pseudo-armor, with wings on their helmets, and some are dressed as ancient, bearded sages wearing oriental turbans and exotic Byzantine hats, masquerading as those ancient and Biblical worthies whom Petrarch had named as victims to the power of Love. And by the 1480s we find in Jacopo del Sellaio's Triumphs of Love, Chastity, Time and Eternity, now in the Museo Bandini in Fiesole [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 7 OMITTED], that the proto-theatrical trionfi depicted by Baldini have been transformed into true mascherate.
Sellaio's paintings have been cut into four separate panels but originally represented a continuous parade in an imaginary landscape, as can be seen by the overlappings from one picture to another. The parade is made up of four carri, and in the Triumph of Love we see at the corners of Love's edifizio four gilded spiritelli with flaming darts. Musicians accompany the carri, playing lutes and horns, and some of the men and women are dancing to the music of the canzoni a ballo. Of special interest are the womens' costumes, which are camicie da giorno (day dresses) that are gaily gilded and painted with pseudo-lettering, with flowers, and with tongues of flame. The patterns are not woven, like the brocaded dresses worn by fashionable young Florentine women, but are painted as disguisements, that is, ephemeral costumes that have been specifically designed for a mascherata.(28) Even so, like everything else relevant to Lorenzo de' Medici's invention of the mascherata, these costumed maidens descend from the traditions of Tuscan folklore. A familiar example appears in Ambrogio Lorenzetti's vignette of the dancing women in his fresco of The Effects of Good Government in the City in the Sala della Pace of the Palazzo Pubblico in Siena [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 8 OMITTED]. The fresco shows the activities of a well-regulated city at peace, and the women wear dresses painted with dragonflies and other insects as they dance in one of the city's festivals. Such festivals could only be celebrated in times of peace, and for this reason the women virtually personify the conditions of peace fostered by the city's governing fathers. Sellaio's nymphs, on the other hand, are not simple maidens, or contadine (peasant girls). They are rather actors in a larger and unified fiction organized round the Petrarchan themes stated in the triumphal carri, to which the music, the dance, the poetry and painted decoration all make a contribution. Nor are they dressed in the latest French fashion, but are habited alia ninfa. They play a role, and dance to the music and singing of those canzoni a ballo composed for a true mascherata.
I wish to call special attention to one of these costumes, namely the white dress decorated with an enchanting pattern of blue cornflowers (fiordilisi) worn by the dancing woman at the left of the Triumph of Chastity [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 9 OMITTED]. Though not identical, the costume is in all fundamental respects the same as the white dress painted with blue cornflowers worn by the figure of Flora in Botticelli's Birth of Venus [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 10 OMITTED]. Botticelli's Flora, in other words, is also disguised for a masque, this time on the theme of Venus and the Spring. Moreover, the same masking is evident in the painted costume worn by Flora in the Primavera [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 11 OMITTED], Botticelli's earlier mascherata of Venus and the Spring, dating to about 1478. Mercury also appears in costume, wearing a red cloak painted with flaming tongues (like some of the nymphs in Sellaio's Trionfi), with a richly-jewelled parade sword suspended from his belt. So too is Venus in disguisement, in a costume made from a camicia da giorno painted with gold rays at the breast, and with huge pearls suspended from the hem of her robe (much like the pearls described by chroniclers decorating the lavish outfits worn at the feasts and jousts). Her costume, like the others, is not made for everyday use but is ephemeral, a quasi-theatrical dress designed for a mascherata. And in this masque of the Spring Flora again appears in her white dress painted with flowers. Its decoration is more elaborate than that for the painted costume she later wears in the Birth of Venus, or for that adorning the costume of Sellaio's nymph in the Triumph of Chastity. In addition to blue cornflowers, Floras dress is painted with white and red roses, with yellow jasmine and pink carnations - in brief, with all the colors of the flowers that she can be seen strewing over the prato variopinto, the meadow colorfully painted with flowers.
Finally, it has long been known, ever since Warburg in fact, that Flora as depicted in Botticelli's Primavera (and to a lesser extent Flora in his Birth of Venus) bears a close resemblance to Politian's description of Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, the lady to whom Giuliano de' Medici had dedicated the joust he won in 1475, who is twice described in the Stanze per la giostra di Giuliano de' Medici as "masked," that is, as wearing a shining white dress "painted" with flowers: "Candida e ella, e candida la vesta / Ma pur di rose e fior dipinta e d'erba. . . ."(29) And again:
Ell'era assisa sovra la verdura, Allegra, e ghirlandetta avea contesta Di quanti fior creassi mai natura, De' quai tutta dipinta era sua vesta.(30)
On this basis Warburg suggested that Flora in the Primavera is in some sense a portrait of Simonetta, who had died in 1476, a year or two before the completion of the picture. If so, and I believe it is, then this is a portrait in a rather complex sense, not only because Simonetta's portrayal is posthumous, but also because she is in disguise. And the same is true of the equally posthumous portrait of her in the Stanze, where she is also described in a disguisement, wearing a painted masquerade dress. What is more, in this, the only appearance of Simonetta in the poem, following upon Politian's celebrated description of her beauty, when she is asked by the delirious and all-but-deranged (forsennato) Julio what kind of goddess she is, she discovers the masquerade. As Eugenio Donato has pointed out, she answers him in remarkably prosaic terms, telling him that she is not at all what he takes her to be. She lives in Florence but comes from Liguria; she is married and lives nearby; she likes to walk in the meadow and enjoy the fresh air and flowers; sometimes sitting in the shade with one of her female friends; she goes to church with the other women to hear Mass on holidays; her beauty is nothing marvelous; and since it is late she had better go home.(31)
The question of portraiture in Florentine Quattrocento art is one of the knottier and hotly contested (though with more heat than light) areas of art-historical research. It is not made any easier by introducing the concept of the masquerade, whereby real people are shown in disguise. Yet the phenomenon of role-playing is real and becomes especially pressing when we consider the art produced during the lifetime of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Among many possible examples, I will illustrate the problem by briefly adducing only one other well-known painting, also by Botticelli: the Adoration of the Magi painted for Guasparre del Lama around 1476 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 12 OMITTED]. There are two classes of portrait in this painting. The first, as reported by Vasari, is represented by the portraits of Cosimo de' Medici and his sons Giovanni and Piero, all posthumous (like Simonetta-Flora in the Primavera). Each is in disguisement (mascherata), acting the role of one of the Magi. It is the fact of their death that allows them this role, for they are done with the contingencies of the present and have themselves entered into the permanence of history, of which they are now part, and to the sum total of which, not least by their particular devotion to the feast of the Magi, they have contributed a measure of added pious and cultural perfection. Especially interesting is the portrait of Cosimo which differs enough from his image on the well-known medal struck after his death in 1464 [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 13 OMITTED] to have caused some scholars to challenge Vasari's identification of him.(32) However, close examination shows that Botticelli in fact followed the outline of Cosimo's profile on the medal, but at the same time omitted all the marks of old age in a man who had died in his seventies. The sunken eyes, wrinkles, and wattles, carefully limned on the medal, were erased by Botticelli in signification of Cosimo's eternally ageless existence. What we see is not Cosimo but an ageless idea of him, his mask, or larva. The second class of portrait is that of the living who witness the masquerade but are not part of it. Among them are Lorenzo, Giuliano, and Botticelli. Giuliano is at the left, shown as the youth he then was, superciliously proud, eyes looking haughtily down his long nose, with a sensuous mouth that curves downward and then rises at the corners in a kind of smirk. The same features are also recorded in a bust of the live Giuliano attributed to Verrocchio in the National Gallery of Art in Washington [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 14 OMITTED]. Both images are usefully compared to Botticelli's posthumous portrait of him, also in the National Gallery [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 15 OMITTED]. Here, as in Cosimo's portrait in the Adoration of the Magi, Giuliano's most salient identifying features - his aquiline nose, haughtily downcast eyes, and double-curving mouth - are abstracted and also exaggerated, creating an image not of Giuliano as he was, but of an eternalized idea of him, his larva.
To return to Simonetta, she appears in Politian's Stanze, not as Flora, but in the role of a nymph pledged to Diana, which happens to be one of the senhals - or masks - used by Lorenzo de' Medici in his earliest poetry to cover his poetic lady, Lucrezia Donati (after 1470 her familiar mask changed to that of the Sun). In 1466 Luigi Pulci also referred to her under the senhal Diana in Da poi che 'Lauro, a canzone he sent as a letter to Lorenzo in Rome telling of Lucrezia's actual misery in his absence.(33) It is, in fact, a notable characteristic of the poetry written by Lorenzo and his clients (and I would suggest that the same is true of painting, Botticelli's especially) that it continually refers to actual people and their histories, rationalizing and interpreting the unpredictable turns of events as they unfold in the light of poetic concepts of love - fictional masks - that are to some degree linked to evolving cultural and political ideals identifiable with the genius and honor of Florence. On a popular level such topicality of reference (and language) appears, as we have seen, in canzoni written for festival trionfi (or in Pulci's frottole, like the enchanting Le Galee per Quaracchi). On a more patrician level it also informs Lorenzo de' Medici's Canzoniere, in which many of the poems refer to specific alterations in the progress of a very teal love affair. One example is the sestina Fuggo i bei raggi del mio ardente Sole of 1466, which is about Lorenzo's love for Lucrezia masked as Diana, and was sent her by way of Braccio Martelli and the brigata, who helped interpret it to her and for themselves.(34) On the deepest level, works like Politian's Stanze and Lorenzo's unfinished Comento to his own sonnets artfully mask larger (and differing) interpretations of contemporary events.
It is well known, for example, that the first four sonnets interpreted by Lorenzo in the Comento were originally written for the death of Simonetta at the age of 23 in 1476. But it has not been generally appreciated that their later incorporation within the broader argument of the Comento is part of Lorenzo's revised interpretation of their meaning in the light of subsequent events. Originally - as had happened for the death of another youthful beauty, Albiera degli Albizzi in 1473 (eternalized by Politian in a beautiful Latin epicedion modeled on Statius with echoes of Petrarch's Trionfo della Morte) - the death of Simonetta gave rise to a species of poetic competition on the model of the ancients. Such funerary laudations (as we have seen) were cited as praiseworthy models by Lorenzo in his letter introducing the Raccolta Aragonese - in which his four sonnets lamenting Simonetta were included, and all the poets of Florence joined with him in mourning her in verse. However, in the Comento these sonnets are given a meaning they did not originally have. Simonetta is there masked as Lorenzo's own first love, a poetic role she had never played, and appears as Venus, the morning star, and the brightest light of heaven. This former ideal of his youth is dead (and it is impossible to avoid seeing an allusion to Lorenzo's murdered brother Giuliano, whose fortune had been identified as Simonetta in the joust he won in 1475), immediately to be eclipsed by a yet brighter star, the Sun. The Sun, as we have seen, is the mask for Lucrezia Donati, who had always been the lady of Lorenzo's early poems. In the Comento Lorenzo took the youthfully erotic ideal of love that Lucrezia had originally represented, and he reidentified it with Simonetta. In so doing he remained true to Lucrezia as his poetic love, even as he altered the idea of love she stood for into a new concept, more abstractly philosophical, and indeed Neoplatonic in character.
We have traced an evolution, subtle but distinct in outline, in the forms of Florentine civic celebration, including new poems by literarily sophisticated and able poets, set to music written by professional composers, among them Heinrich Isaac, and sung in parts by trained singers. Concomitantly, we have also witnessed a corresponding growth in sophistication and lavishness in the invention and presentation of particular themes, both traditional as in the case of Petrarch's Trionfi, and new (and with classical components) as in the Triumph of the Seven Planets or the Triumph of Aemilius Paulus. These themes, with their accompanying music and canzoni a ballo, are unified around the imagery displayed on the triumphal cars (decorated by the best artists), accompanied by figures whose attire changes gradually from fashionable dress to a kind of theatrical disguise. All of these, taken together, define the new mascherata in recognizable terms, and directly prefigure its later development in the spectacles and intermezzi of the Florentine grand-dukes, in French ballets du cour, and in English masques. But with Lorenzo's poetry, Politian's Stanze, and Botticelli's Primavera we have moved almost imperceptibly into the realm of a high art that takes the Laurentian masque as its point of departure and hence establishes masking itself as its hermeneutic crux. It is an art on the one hand sophisticated in the extreme, with internal references to a thousand poetic and artistic models (so characteristic of Politian), and on the other hand rooted in popular imagination and the common experiences of the present.
Both Botticelli and Politian (almost certainly the advisor for the invention of the Primavera) have been interpreted as artists whose purpose it was to transform the contingencies of historical experience - subsuming, as Carducci would have it, the "wretched pretext" afforded the poet by Giuliano's joust (or the painter by a mere Calendimaggio celebration) - into a world of pure myth, a humanist dreamland defined exclusively within the refined lineaments of a pure art. The experiences of the present have been absorbed by an ideal poetic and mythical universe that acquires new meaning only by glancing iconographical allusions to Medicean themes and devices (contributing to what historians have called the myth of Lorenzo de' Medici). And yet, as was pointed out by Donato in his shrewdly polemical article, this solution remains on the whole awkward and unsuccessful.(35) For example, as regards the Stanze, the figures of Julio, Lauro, and the nymph Simonetta do not have autonomous poetic existence. They can be understood only in terms of the historical persons and events thinly masked by their poetic diguisements. Simonetta is not the poetically ideal equivalent of Beatrice and Laura - as indeed we have heard her carefully explaining to the delirious Julio. She does not, like Beatrice in Dante's Vita nuova or Laura in Petrarch's Canzoniere, exist entirely within the framework of a poetic argument that she structures and is herself structured by. Although Politian brings to bear all his poetic skills, deploying his virtually infinite repertory of literary models in order to stress her idealization, still Simonetta's historical reality is always present, and indeed insisted upon.
It therefore makes all the difference in the world for interpretation of the poem if we date its inception to 1475, the year of Giuliano's joust; or to 1476, when the 23-year-old Simonetta died on April 26; or to 1478, when the 25-year-old Giuliano was murdered on April 26, exactly the second anniversary of Simonetta's death. Any attempt to understand the poetry of the Stanze must take this tension between art and history into account. The same is true of Lorenzo's poetry and also, I would suggest, of the Masque of the Spring depicted in Botticelli's Primavera.
The problem of interpreting Politian's Stanze is made yet more difficult by virtue of the fact that the point of departure for the poem was Giuliano's joust of 1475. As an event this too was an imaginative representation, a display of chivalric culture and civic idealism enacted in a ritual that was an expression of the collective public imagination as well as of the individual participants. The symbolic structure of the Stanze arises in large part from the particular, personal chivalric symbolism - or masking - that Giuliano had adopted for the joust, which he had dedicated to Simonetta, who was disguised in the image of Pallas on the standard he carried into the arena, painted by none other than Botticelli. The banner was listed as still being in the Palazzo Medici in an inventory drawn up at the time of Lorenzo's death in 1492 but is now lost, although an echo of its central image of Pallas survives in an intarsia door panel in the ducal palace in Urbino [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 16 OMITTED].(36) Politian's Stanze, together with various descriptions surviving in contemporary chronicles and in humanist poetry, has naturally enough been used as evidence for helping to reconstruct the appearance of Botticelli's painted standard and for interpreting its possible meaning as an expression of Giuliano's knightly idea. This is certainly legitimate, but we should not lose sight of the fact that Politian's adaptation of its symbolism in the Stanze - his interpretation of the reality hidden beneath the double mask of Simonetta and Pallas - was put to the service of his own poetic invention; and that he moreover adapted Giuliano's allegory as the poetic key for unlocking his own independent, and retrospective interpretation of the meaning of the idea of chivalric love that Giuliano had meant to express.
The essential imagery of Giuliano's standard, upon which all the contemporary sources both in prose and poetry agree, showed Pallas gazing up toward the sun, wearing a white dress under a gold tunic, and standing over a burning olive branch (the Medici device of the broncone). She was helmeted, but with hair blowing free, and she carried a jousting lance in one hand and the Medusa shield in the other. Cupid appeared to one side, bound to an olive tree, with his feathers plucked and his bow, quiver, and broken arrows scattered about the ground. No contemporary observer could have failed to recognize in the figures of the virgin Pallas with the bound Cupid, despoiled of his feathers and armaments, a direct allusion to Petrarch's Triumph of Chastity from the Trionfi, a universally beloved poem that we have already seen inspired many festival cars and the numerous depictions of them in art (among them Sellaio's Triumphs). Petrarch's figure of Chastity, in common with Giuliano's Pallas, wore a white gown and carried Pallas's terrible shield on which Medusas face was fixed. With her was Cupid, bound and despoiled of his feathers, quiver and broken arrows scattered on the ground.(37) Petrarch's metaphorical identification of Chastity with the virgin Pallas by virtue of her attribute of the Medusa shield is deliberate, and it is no anomaly for Botticelli (or the inventor of Giuliano's allegory - perhaps Politian) to have gracefully returned the compliment by metaphorically figuring Pallas under the guise of Petrarch's Chastity triumphing over the bound and wretched god of Love. Accordingly, even though the banner is lost, its allegory is really quite easy to read: Giuliano's fortune in the joust was dedicated to Simonetta who was masked on his standard as the virgin Pallas gazing steadily toward the sun, thereby showing his devotion to an idea of Chastity and sapient conquering of carnal love (the bound Cupid), and his desire to enter the field and win glory (the sun) for the Medici house (the broncone).
In Politian's Stanze, however, the same imagery is anything but easy to read, and least of all for the hero Julio (Giuliano). It appears in what Politian clearly names a false dream (fallace sonno), conjured up by Venus:
Pargli veder feroce la sua donna, tutta nel volto rigida e proterva, legar Cupido alia verde colonna della felice pianta di Minerva, armata sopra alia candida gonna, che 'l casto petto col Gorgon conserva: e par che tutte gli spennecchi l'ali, e che rompa al meschin l'arco eli strali.
Ahime, quanto era mutato da quello Amor che mo' torno tutto gioioso! Non era sovra l'ale altero e snello, non del trionfo suo punto orgoglioso: anzi merze chiamava el meschinello miseramente, e con volto pietoso gridando a Iulio: "Miserere mei, difendimi, o bel Iulio, da costei."
E Iulio a lui dentro al fallace sonno parea risponder con mente confusa: "Come poss'io cio far, dolce mio donno, che nell'armi di Palla e tutta chiusa? Vedi i mie' spirti che soffrir non ponno la terribil sembianza di Medusa, e 'l rabbioso fischiar delle ceraste, e 'l volto e l'elmo e 'l folgorar dell'aste."
"Alza gli occhi, alza, Iulio, a quella fiamma che come un sol col suo splendor t'adombra: quivi e colei che l'alte mente infiamma, e che de' petti ogni vilta disgombra. Con essa, a guisa di semplice damma, prenderai questa ch'or nel cor t'ingombra tanta paura, e t'invilisce l'alma; che sol ti serba lei trionfal palma."
Cosi dicea Cupido, e gia la Gloria scendea giu folgorando ardente vampo: con essa Poesia, con essa Istoria volavon tutte accese del suo lampo.
Costei parea ch'ad acquistar vittoria rapissi Iulio orribilmente in campo, e che l'arme di Palla alia sua donna spogliassi, e lei lasciassi in bianca gonna.(38)
In the Stanze Venus had earlier announced her intention to induce Julio, whom Cupid boasted was now chained to his triumphal carro (the result of Julio's misreading of Simonetta masked as a nymph, despite her warning that she is not what he thinks), to enter the field in order to win a second triumph "for our glory," and not Julio's. At her bidding Pasithea had gone to Somnus, her husband, and selected several dreams whose true forms were "hidden behind false masks" ("sogni drento alle lor larve"),(39) so that these might appear to Julio in sleep. And in sleep Julio's turbulently confused mind (mente confusa) seems to see a sequence of images that terrify him, and make base his soul. He thinks to see his lady, her face rigid and obdurate, ferocious in her white dress covered by Pallas's armor, seeming to tie Cupid to the olive tree, to pluck his feathers and despoil him of his weapons. Petrarch's image of Chastity, which anyone viewing Giuliano's actual joust might well have been expected to recognize, the dreaming Julio is unable to read. In terror he turns away from his lady toward Cupid, who cries out to him to take pity and come to his defense, to save him from her. What idea of chivalric or poetic love can it be that makes an enemy of the beloved, that requires Love itself to be defended from the idea of the beloved to which one's own honor has been pledged? The image of Simonetta borne by the the actual Giuliano on his standard had been conceived, like all such images, as a representation of his mente. It expressed in the image of the beloved his very soul, his devotion to an idea of chaste love secure in the armor of Pallas, who is the mask for Simonetta, to whom Giuliano had dedicated his joust, his honor, and his fortune. In Politian's Stanze, however, these signs are hopelessly confused, uninterpretable by the dreaming Julio who does not know, or even possess his own mente, which is completely captive to Venus and Cupid. In his dream Cupid directs Julio's loyalty away from Simonetta, proposing that he follow a new lady who appears masked as Glory like the sun, and who seems to strip Simonetta of her armor and to fit Julio with it. The image, in sharp contrast to Petrarch, is of Chastity despoiled and Julio travestito. The defeat of Chastity and Simonetta, moreover, has been secured by Venus, not by true Glory, for it had been Venus who conjured up the dissimulating larve - only the empty masks - of Cupid, Pallas, and Glory. And as Julio stands momentarily joyful in Simonetta's armor, he seems to see her taken up in a sad cloud (a certain reference to Simonetta's death in 1476, the year after Giuliano's actual joust), and he is filled with sadness. But his joy is renewed when she immediately returns in the form of Fortune, who from that moment will govern his life.
"In these confused signs [Politian writes] the youth was shown the changing course of his fate: too happy, if early death were not placing its cruel bit on his delight."(40) And the rubric printed in the margin next to this verse in the first edition of the Stanze, published in 1494 while Politian was still alive and almost certainly written by him, reads that this is a "Pronostico verissimo della morte di Iulio."(41) But again, Julio is unable to see through the mask. He awakens and addresses a prayer to Love, pledging to champion him against Simonetta, "against her by whose strength and wit, if my dream speaks true, you have been bound."(42) He adds prayers to Pallas and Glory, swearing to "accompany you, Love, Minerva, and Glory, for your fire inflames all my heart; from you I hope to gain the lofty victory . . . and to make her humble, she who now disdains us: for yours is the standard I will carry into the field."(43) The ominous words ring in our ears - Sever mi dice il sonno (if the dream speaks truly) - for we already know that Julio's dream is a fallace sonno, a false dream, and that he has been deluded by the masks, the empty larve, of Love, Minerva and Glory.
The spectre of such a somber reading of the Stanze has always been acknowledged. Indeed Giuseppe Picotti made a strong case in its favor, pointing out that it seems strange indeed for Politian to indict a diatribe against Fortune - "O felice colui che lei non cura / E che a' suoi gravi assalti non s'arrende!"(44) - at the very moment Julio is filled with joy at seeing his lady return as Fortune, who will now govern his life.(45) However, with the exception of Picotti, no one has seriously attempted a negative interpretation of the Stanze since the estimable Isidoro del Lungo put forward the fundamental objection in 1863 - the only one that really counts - that "a poem of love and of jousts after the death of the hero would have been a misconception, and in Politian a vice which he did not possess - ingratitude."(46) Del Lungo went on to put forward the view that has prevailed for the most part ever since, which is that Politian began the poem soon after the joust in 1475, that the ominous change in the tone and content of the second book was owing to Simonetta's death in 1476, and that the poem was left unfinished either because of this tragedy, or because Politian could see no way to finish it after Giuliano's murder in 1478. However, as Donato observed, if the poem were really only about the joust, then there would have been no reason to introduce the subject of Simonetta's subsequent death in the first place. I would add, moreover, that the Stanze cannot be read, like Politian's epicedion for Albiera degli Albizzi, as a lamentation for Simonetta, except insofar as she is the mask for Giuliano's mente. Giuliano's unfinished life is the subject of the unfinished Stanze, and Simonetta is the mask for his unhappy fortune.
I have referred to the "true prognostication of Julio's death" printed in the marginal rubrics to the first edition of the Stanze in the Cose vvlgare del Politiano of 1494 and included in subsequent publications of the poem until Pernicone's edition of 1954. Pernicone argued that, although Politian had certainly written the rubrics for the first book, those of the second were added by an "incompetent editor," that is, Alessandro Sarti, and so he expelled them from the text.(47) I need not enter into this technical question here except to say that Sarti, whom Vittore Branca has called the "true Eckermann of Angelo,"(48) was a refined humanist who not only edited the Orfeo impeccably for the same edition of 1494, but was also official editor for Politian's Latin works (including, with Aldus, the Opera omnia); and to add that recent codicological work by Guglielmo Gorni has shown that the second book of the Stanze could not have been written before 1479, the year after Giuliano's death, when Politian also revised the first book.(49) Gorni also maintained that, even though it is in theory possible that certain rubrics for the second book might not have been written by Politian, nevertheless to reject them totally (as Pernicone had done) would be "courageous, and not altogether reassuring."(50) In Branca's summation "a re-elaborative project for the Stanze posterior to 1479 is extremely probable," adding that, "it is unthinkable that a highly devoted admirer such as Sarti . . . would have printed [Politian's] writings unknown to him and against his will."(51)
Pernicone's reasons for questioning Politian's authorship of the rubrics to the second book derived in part from his adherence to del Lungo's interpretation, to this day orthodox, that the poem refers to the death of Simonetta but not also to Giuliano's. Hence the rubric referring to Giuliano's death was a blunder by Sarti. More serious, there was the "mistaken" rubric to Stanza II. 43, in which Julio addresses Glory (or at least thinks he does), stating that these are instead the words spoken by Julio to Venus - "Parole di Iulio a Venere" [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 17 OMITTED]. This appears on the famous (and crucial) page in the 1494 edition on which there also can be seen the woodcut (the only one, as Settis has shown, specifically designed for the Stanze).(52) The woodcut shows Julio in prayer in a kind of chapel, kneeling before the statue of a spear-carrying goddess set in a niche behind an altar. It illustrates Stanza II. 41, which is printed just beneath, the content of which is "correctly" identified by the rubric as Julio's prayer to Pallas (Oratione di Iulio a Pallade). This seems reasonably consistent with the woodcut's portrayal of an armed woman dressed alla ninfa. One thinks, for example, of Botticelli's Pallas and the Centaur [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 18 OMITTED], in which Pallas is also dressed alla ninfa, wearing a masquerade costume decorated with Medici rings, and which at one time was wrongly identified as Giuliano's banner. Moreover, as Settis pointed out, the burning branches on the altar recall the broncone that appeared beneath Pallas' feet on that banner. The dedication inscribed on the altar, however, is not to Pallas but to Cythera. Julio's delusional prayer to Pallas is addressed to Venus disguised as Pallas. The "mistaken" rubric two stanzas later is not in error. In fact it confirms that his immediately subsequent prayer to Glory is again offered to a deluding larva, to a false mask of Glory that disguises Venus. It is Venus who has misled Julio with deceiving dreams of love and glory, and on her account that he enters the joust (that wretched subject, as Carducci wrote, for encomiastic poetry), leaving him a hostage to Fortune.
Whether this means that Politian (who published the Stanze only in 1494, after Lorenzo de' Medici's death) was indeed caught up in anti-Medicean factionalism, and hence was tainted, in del Lungo's words, with the vice of ingratitude, is no doubt open to debate.(53) But I don't think so. We should remember that Lorenzo himself had turned his back on the youthful idea of erotic love praised in his early poetry. In his Comento, as we have seen, he masked this idea as the morning star, Venus, signifying a beauty both literally dead and dead to him - Simonetta, whose fortune and his brothers had been so fatefully entwined. In poetic terms, to proclaim his love for Simonetta was no more than to state his love for the lost Giuliano, with whom his own youth had died, and to identify that youth with an exquisite, carefree delight in the sheer beauty of life that had gone tragically wrong. After the catastrophe of the Pazzi conspiracy, no such idea was any more possible as the realities of insurrection and actual war settled in around Florence. And when the clouds cleared a decade later, and once again mascherate with their spectacular triumphal cars, costumes, music, dancing and canzoni were sponsored by Lorenzo in Florence, the reality hidden by the new masks had doubtless again changed into something more closely resembling what Machiavelli saw them to be: the panem et circenses by which an increasingly autocratic leader sought to keep the people diverted, and that is especially characteristic of the mascherate and public spectacles sponsored by Leo X upon his return to Florence, as well as by the Medici grand-dukes in the later sixteenth century.
Regarding Politian's Stanze, however, it should be kept in mind that all interpretations of ongoing history (and especially artistic ones) are contingent, and that every work of art has its own meaning. In the case of Laurentian Florence, and especially in that art arising close to the person of Lorenzo, this entailed the artist's own response to experiences common to all (which is why the question of dating is so crucial). The ominous meaning of the idea of youthful love masked in Simonetta by Politian terrified, as Garin has shown, by human helplessness in the face of the capriciousness and brutality of Fortune - is not the same as the meaning, or interpretation, of the idea masked in her by Lorenzo - an adroit master in adapting to events in unpredictable flux - who regretfully but firmly consigns her (and Giuliano) to an irrecoverable past. Nor is either identical to the optimistic meaning expressed in Botticelli's Primavera, in which the idea of perennially youthful and fecund love masked by Simonetta in the guise of Flora and presided over by Venus is celebrated and made permanently manifest in an earthly paradise of imperishable and eternally renewing beauty.(54) For all three artists - Lorenzo, Poliziano, and Botticelli - Simonetta broadly signified the same idea, namely the innocence, intensity and pure beauty of youthful love and desire. However, the meaning of that idea changed over time as it was overtaken by history and altered by events that each interpreted differently. Youth itself had died with Giuliano. What was left was the mask, enigmatic and infinitely interpretable.
THE JOHNS HOPKINS UNIVERSITY
1 See Il Lasca, xxxix-xliv; Vasari, 5:340. Unless otherwise noted, all subsequent quotations from Lasca and Vasari refer to these pages.
2 I will keep my references to the vast bibliography to the essential minimum necessary for my particular argument, referring the reader to the bibliographies compiled in Ciappelli's excellent study and in Carew-Reid. Both list the important recent contributions by Ventrone and Newbigin, among others, and, naturally, Trexler (1980) upon which all later interpretations, whether in agreement or in opposition, greatly depend.
3 Ciappelli, 188.
4 Ventrone, 1992, 237. See also Ventrone, 1990, esp. 343.
5 Cf. Zanato's introduction to the Laude in de' Medici, 401-07. See also Bruscagli.
6 For the preface to the Raccolta Aragonese, which is generally attributed to Politian writing in Lorenzo's name, see Varese, 987ff.; for the Comento, see de' Medici, 555ff.
7 Varese, 987ff.
10 Quoted in Herford and Simson, 251.
11 See Ciappelli, 199-200 and 199, n. 17, for other anonymous canzoni datable before 1486 on the basis of manuscript evidence.
12 de' Medici, 357. See further Martelli, 1965, 37-49; and for a lengthy account of the mascherata of the Seven Planets, see Ventrone. 1990, esp. 355ff. (with close attention to Naldo Naldi's poem, Elegia in septem stellas errantes sub humana specie per urbem florentinam curribus a Laurentio Medice patriae patre dud iussas more triumphantium).
13 Quoted in de' Medici, 357; and in Martelli, 1965, 38.
14 de' Medici, 357.
15 I thank Jonathan Nelson, who will discuss the engraving in greater detail in his forthcoming book on Filippino Lippi, for sharing his thoughts about it with me. A.M. Hind, 1.17, 144-45, already noticed "the most evident influence of Filippino Lippi." A drawing by Filippino of an enthroned woman on a triumphal carro may also be connected with the "mascherata di 7 trionfi di 7 pianeti." See Whistler, 15-17; and Goldner and Bambach, 218-19.
16 Vasari, 5:340.
17 de' Medici, 357.
18 Ciappelli, 201; Brandi.
19 Politian, Nutricia, vv. 764-765.
20 For a discussion of Pulci's poem, see Dempsey, 85ff. See also Martelli, 1996, 189ff.
21 Pulci, Da poi che 'Lauro, w. 64-71: "How much was I the kindling and fire when he nonetheless gave parties and made new devices! I often laughed to myself when he appeared, completely transformed, and with certain of his masks thought to deceive me that he was not himself. Ha, a real lover! As though I should not know damask roses from common violets." Unless otherwise noted, all translations are my own. Note the the pun on "mask" in rose adamasche.
22 Pulci, La giostra di Lorenzo de' Medici, octave xvii, 68. "And he grieved, but with honorable words. Then he began to try new arts and things of wit, to spin new thoughts, sometimes with horses, sometimes in fantasies, sometimes with costumes, devices, and emblems, and sometimes staging dances and nighttime parties (for what is it Love does not teach?). Many times he appeared to his beautiful sun in order to please her, in dissimulating masks." See also the discussion in Dempsey, 79ff.
23 Dempsey, 89-90. For the complete Italian text of Martelli's letter, see del Lungo, 33ff.
24 For the date of the Canzona de' confortini see Zanato's commentary in de' Medici, 358-59.; and for Isaac's arrival in Florence, see D'Accone, 464-483.
25 Mancini, esp. 224.
26 de' Medici, 357.
27 Trexler; and Francastel.
28 For further discussion, see Dempsey, 65-72.
29 Politian, 1954, 1.43. All translations of Politian are taken from Quint, 1979: "She is fair-skinned, unblemished white, and / white is her garment, though painted with / roses, flowers, and grass."
30 Ibid., 1.47. "She was seated upon the grass, and, lighthearted, / had woven a garland out of as many flowers as / nature ever created, the flowers with which her / dress was painted."
31 Donato, 27-40.
32 See Hatfield, 74, who accepts Vasari's testimony. And see his figs. 27 and 29 for the comparison of Cosimo's features as portrayed by Botticelli and as they appear on the medal.
33 See Dempsey, 85-96.
34 Ibid., 99.
36 Warburg, 187, and fig. 50.
37 See Petrarch, Triumphus Pudicitie, 118-35, and especially: "Ell'avea in dosso, il di, candida gonna,/lo scudo in man che real vide Medusa./ . . . legarlo [Cupido] vidi e fame quello strazio /che basto ben a mille altre vendette; ed io per me ne fui contento e sazio. / I' non poria le sacre e benedette / vergine ch'ivi fur chiudere in rima/ . . . queste gli strali / avean spezzato e la faretra a lato / a quel protervo, e spennacchiato l'ali." See also Sellaio's Triumph of Chastity [ILLUSTRATION FOR FIGURE 7 OMITTED] for Petrarch's image of Cupid bound on Chastity's chariot and despoiled by maidens of his arms and feathers.
38 Politian, 1954, 2.28-32. See appendix, p. 40, for translation.
39 Ibid., 2.24.
40 Ibid., 2:35.
41 Politian, 1863, 2:35.
42 Politian, 1954, 2:44.
43 Ibid, 2:46.
44 Ibid., 2:37. "Happy he who pays no heed to her nor gives in / to her heavy assaults."
45 Picotti's arguments were challenged by Guerrieri and have had little influence since. The positions are summarized, and Guerrieri's upheld, in Momigliano's influential edition of Politian's Stanze, Orfeo, and Rime. However, as Donato also stressed, Simonetta's return as the Fortune who will govern Giuliano's life cannot have a positive meaning. Politian was deeply terrified by the unpredictable twists and brutal turns of Fortune, which reduces history to chaos and leads to the death of everything human. See especially Garin's classic study, "Lambiente del Poliziano," as well as G.-E Biasins analysis of Politian's Coniurationis Pactianae commentarium.
46 See Politian, 1863, xx -xxxiv, esp. xxxiii.
47 Politian, 1954, lxix-hod.
48 Branca, 3.
49 Gorni, 1975, 241-64; and 1986, 391-412.
50 Gorni, 1975, 264.
51 Branca, 5 and 7. See also Delcorno Branca, 22ff., and the important study by J. H. Cotton, "Alessandro Sarti e il Poliziano."
52 Settis, 135-177.
53 See n. 46 above.
54 See further Dempsey, 140-66. For stylistic reasons I hold to the traditional view that the Primavera dates to around 1477-78, which means that it, unlike Politian's Stanze and Lorenzo's Comento, was conceived and very likely painted before the Pazzi Conspiracy. Recent attempts to date it later are driven by the theory that the painting was made for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici, the younger cousin and ward of the Magnificent. This is, however, only a theory, to which I hope to return in another place. Lightbown's suggestion that the painting might date to 1483 (when Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco was married) seems late on grounds of style, though it is perhaps debatable. Bredekamp's radical redating of it to the 1490s seems impossible to defend.
Translation of "Pargli veder feroce la sua donna . . ."
by David Quint
He seems to see his lady, harsh and unbending in aspect, fiercely tie Cupid to the green trunk of Minerva's happy tree; over her white gown she wears armour which protects her chaste bosom with its gorgon breastplate; and she seems to pluck all the feathers from his wings, and she breaks the bow and arrows of the wretch.
Alas, how changed he was from that Love who just now had joyfully returned! He was not haughtily and nimbly soaring, he was not at all gloating over his triumph: rather the little wretch was crying miserably for mercy, and called to Julio with a woeful countenance: "Have pity on me, defend me from her, fair Julio."
And Julio within his false dream seemed to an- swer him with a confused mind: "How may I do this, my sweet lord, for she is all enclosed in the armour of Pallas? You see my spirits cannot en- dure the terrible features of Medusa, the angry hiss of her vipers, the face, the helmet, and the flashing lance.
"Raise, raise your eyes, Julio, to that flame which, like a sun, dazzles you with its bright- ness: there is she who inflames lofty minds and removes all baseness from the heart. With her you will capture, as you would a simple doe, this lady who now so burdens your heart with fear and makes base your soul; only a triumphal palm will win her for you."
So Cupid was saying, and Glory was already des- cending, flashing about a fierce splendor: Poetry and History flew with her, kindled by her light- ning. With dreadful force, she seemed to carry Julio off to the battlefield to gain victory, she seemed to strip the armour of Pallas from his lady and left her in her white gown.
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