Satyr-prankster (fragment) by Sandro Botticelli

Satyr prankster (fragment) by Sandro Botticelli

Satyr-prankster, a fragment of the painting by artist Sandro Botticelli “Venus and Mars”. Historians and researchers of Botticelli’s work suggest that the image of satyrs in “Venus and Mars” is associated with the text of the Greek writer of the second century Lucian.

In the passage on which the painting of the artist Botticelli rests, the picture dedicated to the wedding of Alexander the Great and Roxanne is described. In it we read: “On the other side of the picture, other erodes play among Alexander’s weapons: two carry his spear, imitating porters when they bend under the weight of a log… one climbed into a shell, lying upwards with a convex surface, and sits, as if in ambush, To frighten others when they are level with him. ” These strange creatures – not erotic, but satyrs with goat hoofs instead of legs, horns and sad-sly look – are shown with visible persuasiveness in the background of the composition and under the bed of Mars. Their described by Lucian noisy games around the sleeping god of war bring a note of elegant playfulness to the scene.

This textual motif is an ecphrasis, that is, a description of a picture existing in reality or in imagination. In the Renaissance, artists and humanists liked to refer to such descriptions; later Botticelli will follow the advice of Alberti in his “Treatise on Painting” and perform “Slander”, using the story of Lucian about the picture on this subject. When drawing up a program of a mythological or allegorical composition in the 15th-16th centuries, many of the authors wrote expressive, concrete, “authentic” descriptions from the Renaissance point of view.

They resorted to interpreting a certain figure, situation, etc., so that the general construction was “recruited” from individual links. But that was an organic method, for the artist’s imagination translated all these details into a coherent picture, from the set of “quotations” there was a single action.

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