First Year Seminar
While waiting to see the Duke of Aosta in an anteroom of the Palazzo Pitti, William Blundell Spence, a painter and Florence resident, noticed a larger-than-life painting on the wall. He immediately informed Erico Rifolfi, then the Director of the Uffizi, because Spence recognized the brushwork of Sandro Botticelli in that little-known painting. Upon the announcement in La Nazione in March 1895, the forgotten piece created a sensation. However, even when exhibited in public, the painting is still veiled in mystery. Pallas and the Centaur belongs to the same time period as Botticelli's famed Primavera and Birth of Venus, commissioned by the Medici in the 1480s. The painting draws inspiration from Antiquity, but there are still discussions about the true identity of the mysterious female figure. The painting can be a homage to the prudence of Lorenzo the Magnificent or to the marriage of his cousin Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco. The scene of the painting may even suggest an allegory of the struggle between the mind and the body. Furthermore, the painting also ties in with the relationships between art, the display of wealth, and political manipulations.
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Nguyen, Alice N., "Botticelli’s Pallas and the Centaur: Virtue Triumphant" (2023). CAFE Symposium 2023. 24.