Detail, The birth of Venus, c 1484, Tempera on wood.  Ufizzi Gallery Florence

Detail, Primavera, c 1482, Grease tempera on wood.  Ufizzi Gallery Florence

Venus and the Graces Offering Gifts to a Young Girl (Giovanna Paying Homage to Venus and the Graces), 1483, Musée du Louvre, Paris

This is one of a pair of frescoes found in the Villa Lemmi in 1863 when the villa was undergoing construction work. Unfortunately the antique dealer who first recognised them as Botticellis, Birnari, was so eager to remove them from the walls that they were damaged in the process and more than half is missing.

The Villa was thought to have been owned by the Tornabuoni family, who had links with the Medicis. Lorenzo Tornabuoni, so the story goes, was about to marry Giovanna Albizzi, and Botticelli was asked to paint the walls by way of decoration for the celebration. It appears that as soon as the wedding was over, the walls were whitewashed over.

The earthly world, symbolized by the young girl, contrasts in its simplicity with the fluid rhythms of the celestial beauties, bearers of that classical ideal which Botticelli, adopting the refined humanism of Lorenzo the Magnificent, expresses with complex linear rhythms and soft colours. - Musée du Louvre