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The Botticelli Secret

Updated on November 15, 2010
La Primevera
La Primevera | Source

The Botticelli Secret

I recently read an interesting book about Botticelli's painting La Primavera, called The Botticelli Secret and written by Marina Fiorato. I found the painting to be beautiful and mesmerizing and the book so entertaining that I decided to write my own review.

The year is 1482 and the place is Medici Florence, a girl named Luciana Vetra works as a prostitute for many of the affluent men in Florence and also doubles part-time as a model. One of her clients has recommended her to the great artist Botticelli, who has been commissioned by the royal Medici family. The Medici family is considered royalty because of their wealth and because they own all the banks and control the money that flows through Florence.

Luciana agrees to sit for Botticelli and meets him at his home and models for him. The painting is La Primavera, meaning the spring, and she is to be Flora in the painting. Luciana is a beautiful girl, she has long blond curlicues that frame her beautiful face and Botticelli has her wearing a floral gown that makes her look even lovelier.

Luciana’s problems start after her sitting is over and she learns that Botticelli has no intentions of paying her for her work. This angers Luciana very much and while she is behind the curtain putting her own clothes back on, she stumbles upon the miniature painting of La Primavera. Luciana decides that if she will not be paid for her time than she will steal the painting and keep it for herself, not only to get even with Botticelli but also because she is very impressed with the painting itself. She rolls it up and hides it in her bosom and leaves.

What she doesn’t know and will soon discover is that she will learn of many secrets that are hidden in the painting that are quite dangerous to her and to people around her. But what is it about this painting that makes keeping it so dangerous for Luciana? She doesn’t know anything about the hidden secrets within the paintings but only knows that someone wants the painting back so much that they will kill her for it.

Luciana goes to the only place that she thinks she will find sanctuary, the nearby monastery where she befriends Brother Guido. She tells Guido her story and they both soon learn that the killers are on her trail even closer than she realized and one of the monks is found dead. Brother Guido and Luciana flee together on an adventure to find out the secrets to the painting, across nine cities of Renaissance Italy, being followed every step of the way by people who are trying diligently to keep them from decoding the secrets hidden in the painting.

 Marina Fiorato is a very good writer, she sets an interesting scenario and writes a masterpiece of a novel that is fresh and alive with brilliant descriptions of Renaissance Italy. In the same vein as the Da Vinci Code, The Botticelli Secret holds its own and is a brilliant read that will take your breath away, as well as keep you on the edge of your seat.

Sandro Botticelli
Sandro Botticelli
The Birth of Venus
The Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli or Il Botticello "The Little Barrel"; (1445-1510) was an Italian painter of the Renaissance era. His most famous paintings being the Birth of Venus and La Primavera. Both paintings have been widely written about and analyzed. He was born in Florence Italy and became an apprentice at the early age of fourteen, not much is known about his life but it is speculated that he was one of the most educated painters of the Renaissance era. The Birth of Venus and La Primavera has always been thought to be commissioned by the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco Medici at Castello.

IN 1481 Pope Sixtus IV commissioned Botticelli to fresco the walls of the Sistine Chapel which was moderately received. It was only after his death, some one hundred years later that Botticelli became one of the most written about and revered painters of the Renaissance.

Botticelli never married and even was known to have an aversion to marriage, but it was rumored that he was in love with Simonetta Vespucci, a married woman and his unrequited love. Some theorized that she was the model in some of his paintings, one in particular the Birth of Venus. In 1476 Simonetta died and Botticelli requested that when he died that he should be buried at her feet in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence, his wishes were carried out when he died in 1510.

Zephyrus and Chloris
Zephyrus and Chloris
The Three Graces
The Three Graces

La Primavera

La Primavera or the Allegory of Spring, is one of the most controversial paintings and one of the most written about paintings ever. There have been many interpretations and speculations as to what the painting actually means.

The painting depicting mythological figures in a splendid garden is said to have been commissioned by the Medici family. Since 1919 it has been at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence Italy.

The painting contains six women and two men as well as a little cherub hanging over an orange grove. The painting also depicts a woman all the way to the right of the painting, wearing a crown of flowers in a floral dress and spreading flowers around her feet. The woman in white next to her seems to be under attack by the man next to her.

To the left of the painting are three women that are engaged in a dance, while a man wearing red holds a rod toward the clouds. In the center of the painting stands a woman kind of isolated from the others, looking in the same direction as the woman in the floral gown.

According to Cunningham and Reich (2009) the painting is "an elaborate mythological allegory of the burgeoning fertility of the world". Elena Capretti in Botticelli (2002) suggests that the typical interpretation is thus:

The reading of the picture is from right to left: Zephyrus the biting wind of March, kidnaps and possesses the nymph Chloris , whom he later marries and transforms into a deity; she becomes the goddess of Spring, eternal bearer of life, and is scattering roses on the ground.

Venus is the woman in the center of the painting and is presiding over the garden, the three dancing ladies are said to be called the Graces who are accompanying her and the cherub is donning the jewels in colors that are similar to the ones of the Medici family.

The man wearing the helmet is said to be Mercury and he is keeping the garden safe. The woman in the floral dress is known as Primavera who becomes Flora. The whole interpretation being that love oriented towards knowledge, triumphs over lust.


Capretti, Elena (1 January 2002). Botticelli Giunti Editore Firenze Italy.

Cunningham, Lawrence S.; John J. Reich (16 January 2009).Culture & Values, Volume II: A Survey of the Humanities with Readings.


Submit a Comment

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    5 years ago from Texas

    Thank you suzettnaples I hope you enjoy the book when you read it Cheers.

  • suzettenaples profile image

    Suzette Walker 

    5 years ago from Taos, NM

    Great review of the book, Botticelli, and La Primavera. I love Botticelli's works and revere him as an Early Renaissance painter. I have to read the book now.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    SamboRambo thanks for stopping by and if you do get the book I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. Cheers to you.

  • SamboRambo profile image

    Samuel E. Richardson 

    7 years ago from Salt Lake City, Utah

    Interesting hub. I'll have to find the book. Sounds like it would make an interesting movie.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Truckstop Sally thanks so much for stopping by. And I agree Art History is great. Cheers.

  • Truckstop Sally profile image

    Truckstop Sally 

    7 years ago

    Beautiful painting and hub. Art history is facinating. Thanks

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    RedElf thanks so much for reading, I read this book with much interest and Caravaggio's paintings are wonderful. I also mentioned in one of the comments above about a book that I read about a Caravaggio's painting that had been lost for some time (The Taking of Christ)and it was also an interesting read, a very conspiracy type book. Glad you enjoyed my hub. Cheers to you.

  • RedElf profile image


    7 years ago from Canada

    Fascinating hub - will have to add that book to my "read me" list. I also love Caravaggio's work - how lovely to find another mystery about another favorite painter. Rated up and Shared!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Hey there Happy New Year to you too and Im sorry I haven't been over to your place either, its been so busy in my world lately. I appreciate the comments and recommendation, I will have to check it out. I too love this kind of book, they really keep you on the edge o your seat. Cheers to you.

  • GPAGE profile image


    7 years ago from California

    Ladyjane...Well Happy New Year! I'm finally getting back here to stop in and comment! This is the sort of book I like. I'm glad you introduced it to me. I'm not sure if you have ever read "Eleven Minutes" by Paulo Coelho? It is a great book and I thought of it after I read this hub. I always love learning about people and stories that I have never heard of. Enjoyed this! Best, G

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Docmo thanks for reading my hub and Im so glad that you enjoyed it and I hope you enjoy the book if you read it, I certainly couldn't put it down. I love the Renaissance era myself and can't get enough of it. Cheers and thank you.

  • Docmo profile image

    Mohan Kumar 

    7 years ago from UK

    Wow, really interesting and you have made me want to go and read up on this. I love the Renaissance artistry and the the history of the Medicis. You have rekindled my interest in this era by this well written hub. Really enjoyed this, Thanks!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    andycool thanks for visiting and for your nice input here. I enjoyed reading this book very much and sharing it with everyone. Cheers.

    Nell hello good to see you, I know exactly what you mean about interpretations of art, sometimes they are hard to decipher and that is what fascinates me the most I guess because most of it is speculations and no one really knows what goes on in the mind of the painters but they certainly leave plenty of clues, that's too cool. Thanks for reading, cheers to you.

    Whidbeywriter thanks for reading and Im glad you enjoyed the review, if you read the book I hope you enjoy it as well. Cheers sis!

  • Whidbeywriter profile image

    Mary Gaines 

    7 years ago from Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, Washington

    Awesome review LJ, you have a way of capturing our interest and not letting us go, this one did it for me thanks....cheers sis!

  • Nell Rose profile image

    Nell Rose 

    7 years ago from England

    Hi, fascinating history behind the painting, and I love the review, I want to read it now! that is what I love about hubpages, I can spend my life time trying to remember who was what, and what was the name of that artist? etc and then I read it on here, and it sinks in! fantastic! so thank you for that, rated up, because it has actually managed to make sense to me! I am not very good at soaking up knowledge of art, I have no idea why! lol cheers nell

  • profile image


    7 years ago

    I'm so impressed with this review! Thanks a lot ladyjane1 for arousing my interest on Botticelli, a well known painter who is not remembered very often nowadays. Great work!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Laura in Denver you are very welcome and thank you for stopping by. Cheers.

  • Laura in Denver profile image

    Laura Deibel 

    7 years ago from Aurora

    Thanks for illucidating the allegory in the painting--fascinating!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Jill thanks for reading and for your nice words. You are right it is much like the Da Vinci Code as it has many twists and turns I think you will like it and I agree about the Botticlli women. Cheers.

    Jake Im glad you found the review interesting. I appreciate your feedback Cheers.

    Christoph nice to see you again and Im glad you found my hub compelling. The book definitely is interesting and learnng about the painting was very ineresting. I wish I could have studied art history so it would be easy to interpret the painings and there are so many different views. Appreciate the feedback, cheers.

  • Christoph Reilly profile image

    Christoph Reilly 

    7 years ago from St. Louis

    The book certainly sounds like an exciting read, and your review makes it sound that much more compelling. I also enjoyed the analysis of the painting. Thanks!

  • profile image

    Jake Gene Barnes 

    7 years ago

    Great review! Makes me want to check out the book.

  • jill of alltrades profile image

    jill of alltrades 

    7 years ago from Philippines

    Thanks very much for this review. You made it very interesting. The story sounds much like the Da Vinci Code.

    I like looking at Boticelli's paintings. His women are always so feminine. My favorite is the birth of Venus.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    GmaGoldie thanks for reading this hub and for your nice comments. Always nice to see you on my hub. Cheers.

  • GmaGoldie profile image

    Kelly Kline Burnett 

    7 years ago from Madison, Wisconsin


    I have always loved Botticelli- his artful presentation of the skin just glows. What a great story and you told it very well. A tremendous addition and great work here on Hub Pages - awesome!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Winsome nice to see you and thanks for reading. Yes I love this period and Pillars of the Earth sounds interesting as well. Thanks for the recommendation. Cheers.

  • Winsome profile image


    7 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

    Hey LJ, sounds like a winner. I just finished all 32 cds of Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet--whew! This one sounds like it might dovetail nicely into the period. =:)

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Lisa thanks for your nice comment and Im glad it peaked your interest. Honestly Amazon does have it less expensively than anywhere else I think unless you get it at ebay, but honestly I got the book at the library and it was free, are very nice but don't feel obligated for me, get the book anyway you want, cheers to you. Enjoy the book.

  • lisadpreston profile image


    7 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

    You really know how to give a review to make people want to read something. I must have the book! Since I am going to purchase the book, does it help you if I buy it from the above ad? I would prefer to have you get credit since you were the one that sparked my interest.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    presatio thanks so much I can always count on you to rate up my work. And if you do read the book I hope you enjoy it as much as I did. And I love art as well. Cheers.

    Rogochucks thanks for visiting my hub. Im glad that you enjoyed it. And I will definitely check out your recommendations, they sound interesting, cheers.

    Mickey yes Love always should conquer lust...thanks for stopping by, cheers.

    Hey sista, glad you could get around to reading this hub and Im glad you liked it. I know you have been under the weather and I hope you feel better soon. LOve.

  • geegee77 profile image


    7 years ago from The Lone Star State!!

    Hey LJ sorry i took so long to read your hub my computer was on the blitz, you did an excellent job and I love those renaissance paintings too, especially "The birth of Venus" great job love :) ge

  • Micky Dee profile image

    Micky Dee 

    7 years ago

    "love oriented towards knowledge, triumphs over lust" Yes Ma'am! Great write LadyJane!

  • Rogochuks profile image


    7 years ago from USA

    This is an excellent review of a great painter and his painting. I have become interested in movies about renaissance painters, and I find them highly engaging. I recommend ''Girl with a Pearl Earring'', and ''The Ghost of Goya''.

  • prasetio30 profile image


    7 years ago from malang-indonesia

    I love art very much, especially painting. I can't wait to read this book. I really enjoy the history behind the creation of painting. Good work and Rating up.


  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Wayne thanks for the compliment and thanks for visiting. I know what you mean about interpreting these paintings and I guess that is why am so interested in them because the painters of the Renaissance and other eras didn't just paint something in vain, everything meant something and so many of the artist were members of secret socieites and its fascinating that they held so many secrets and I guess that's what peaks my interest. Cheers to you Wayne.

    Rose56 thanks so much for your nice commnts, you always have something good to say for the most part, lol. Cheers.

    Mcmillen if you do get the book I hope you enjoy it. Cheers.

  • Mcmillen Writes profile image

    Mcmillen Writes 

    7 years ago from Dallas-Fort Worth Metro

    Wow I want to read that now

  • rose56 profile image


    7 years ago

    Excellent work you did on this one. Its really awesome all the time and effort and research you put into these hubs. Ladyjane your pictures are wonderful.

    Great job.

  • Wayne Brown profile image

    Wayne Brown 

    7 years ago from Texas

    I can tell right away that I might have more trouble interpreting one of these painting than I already do unweaving one of ralwus' pomes. You did a nice job on this and certainly set up an interest to read the book for the reader. Thanks for sharing! WB

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Thanks MartieCoetser I appreciate it and I hope you enjoy the book. Cheers.

  • MartieCoetser profile image

    Martie Coetser 

    7 years ago from South Africa

    Excellent review. I’m definitely buying the book. Thanks!

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    europwalker thanks for visiting, and Im jealous that you have been to the Louvre the museum I have always wanted to go to. I did have the priviledge of going to the Hermitage in Russia which was a fantastic experience, my mouth was wide open the whole time it was great. Thanks again for visitng. Cheers.

    the fix you are always welcome thanks for stopping by. Cheers.

    mysterylady thanks for stopping by and Im glad that you enjoyed the review. I only was familiar with the Primavera a couple of times but really became fascinated when I got the book, now Im in love with the whole idea of it and the mystery that surrounds it and the author who first saw the picture up close and personal when she was a child in Florence became almost obssessed with the painiting and its interpretations that she was compelled to write this book, I applaud her because she is awesome. Now Im a huge fan of Botticelli and both of his most famous paintings. THanks for the thoughtful comment, cheers.

    drbj if you are a voracious reader such as myself then Im sure that you wont be able to put it down and if you are so compelled to get this book, I so hope you enjoy it as much as I did, Luciana being a prostitute is quite humoruous in the book and talks like a sailor, I loved it. Cheers.

  • drbj profile image

    drbj and sherry 

    7 years ago from south Florida

    Excellent tribute to Botticelli, ladyjane. The book sounds very interesting - I'll have to get a copy and see for myself. Thanks for he heads up. :)

  • mysterylady 89 profile image

    mysterylady 89 

    7 years ago from Florida

    "Primavera" is one of my favorite paintings. I have not read the book, but it sounds fascinating. Thanks for an interesing review!

  • profile image

    the fix 

    7 years ago

    Inspiring hub and a great review! Thx

  • europewalker profile image


    7 years ago

    Great hub, I love Renaissance art. I was over joyed when I visited the Louve and the National Gallery in London, such beautiful art.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    iangb40 thanks so much for your interest and your nice comments, incidently I read a book about a Caravaggio painting called the Lost Painting. Its a detective story about the famous Taking of the Christ painting that was lost for many years. It was a great read and I also like Caravaggio very much and that is what peaked my interest to the book. THanks again for visiting, cheers.

  • iangb40 profile image


    7 years ago from Hamilton, Canada

    Fascinating review of The Botticelli Secret. The rhythm and cadence of your words were without a hitch. Always the mark of a fine writer. I just kept reading on and on, with great interest. Well done! As an aside, my favourite painter of the Renaissance is Caravaggio. If you haven't had a chance to visit Mark Harden's Artchive, I highly recommend it. Well over 2,000 paintings from almost every era, and you can resize the images with one click of the mouse.

  • ladyjane1 profile imageAUTHOR


    7 years ago from Texas

    Pamela thanks for reading I appreciate your feedback and I thought the significance to the painting to be quite interesting and apparently so did the writer because she wrote an amazing book. Thanks for always visiting. Cheers.

    Ken Moncrieff wow you made my day with your comments and its always great to see you. Cheers.

  • profile image

    Ken Moncrieff 

    7 years ago

    Hi Ladyjane1, A very nice revue and well executed - reading your hubs is always a pleasure. I like your attention to detail and look forward to more of the same.

  • Pamela99 profile image

    Pamela Oglesby 

    7 years ago from Sunny Florida

    The picture is gorgeous and I loved your review. You obviously spent time in research but I would not have know the significance of the painting without your review. It was very interesting.

  • moncrieff profile image


    7 years ago from New York, NY

    Interesting subject, Botticelli! A well known Renaissance painter but one who is not recalled very often nowadays. Seems like the author went in the wake of the success of the Da Vinci Code with this subject and title. But then it should be not a bad thing for those enjoys such books.


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