(b. 1445, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)
Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Womanc. 1484
Fresco transferred to canvas, 211 x 284 cm
Musée du Louvre, Paris
The only secular frescoes by Botticelli that still exist were discovered 1873, in the Villa Lemmi, at the foot of the Careggi Hill, close to a villa of Cosimo de Medici. They had been concealed under old coats of paint for centuries. Villa Lemmi belonged to the Tornabuoni family, friend of the Medici. It is possible that the frescoes were commissioned on the occasion of a marriage between members of the Tornabuoni and Albizzi families. For a long time the view was held that the couple in question were Giovanna degli Albizzi and Lorenzo Tornabuoni, who married in 1486. This assumption has, however, since been proven wrong, for the face of Giovanna that we know from a medallion does not agree with the lady in Botticell's fresco. A possible alternative could be Nanna Tornabuoni and Matteo degli Albizzi, who married in about 1484.
It is supposed the frescoes were executed to commemorate the marriage of Lorenzo Tornabuoni and Giovanna degli Albizzi.
The frescoes are in a very poor state of preservation, because they were damaged when taken down from the wall. Two of the three fragments found were transferred to canvas and later sold to the Louvre in Paris. The two compositions were originally separated only by a window.
One of the fragments probably represents Venus and the Three Graces Presenting Gifts to a Young Woman, the other A Young Man Being Introduced to the Seven Liberal Arts.
On this painting there is a strange lack of certainty as to the identity of the group of four young classically dressed women, who are gracefully stepping towards a young woman in front of the splashing spring in order to bring her gifts. They may be Venus and the Three Graces, symbolizing chastity, beauty and love.