Social History of Art

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16th Italy

Salviati, Florentine Nobleman, detail, St. Louis Art Museum

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Salviati, Florentine Nobleman, detail, St. Louis Art Museum
The River God Arno and the Lion of Florence. His urn gushes water onto the allegorical lily of Florence, recalling Florentine humanist legends of Fiorenze / Florentia named after the flowers of Venus (legends dating back at least to Boccaccio - see my essay on Botticelli's Primavera). Florence can be understood as Flower City. Since Roman antiquity (Horace, etc.), the flourishing and rebirth of cities was conventionally allegorized with images of Spring, Golden Age, and agricultural or floral growth. Here the themes of masculine fertility and feminine flourishing come together to flatter one of the city's ruling class, set against a fertile green canopy.
Posted by Robert Baldwin on June 4, 2011 Full Size| Slideshow