BOTTICELLI, Sandro
(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

Pallas and the Centaur

c. 1482
Tempera on canvas, 205 x 147,5 cm
Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence

An inventory dating from 1499, which was not discovered until 1975, lists the property of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco and his brother Giovanni and states that in the 15th century the Primavera had been displayed in Florence's city palace.

According to the inventory of 1499 which lists the property of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco, the painting Pallas and the Centaur hung above a door in the same room as the Primavera. Its bare landscape focuses one's gaze on the two figures. A centaur has trespassed on forbidden territory. This lusty being, half horse and half man, is being brought under control by a guard armed with a shield and halberd, and she has grabbed him by the hair. The woman has been identified both as the goddess Pallas Athena and the Amazon Camilla, chaste heroine of Virgil's Aeneid. What is undisputed is the moral content of the painting, in which virtue is victorious over sensuality.

This painting marks the end of Botticelli's Medicean period, from this point onwards the subject-matter of his paintings changes and becomes increasingly religious.