**** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE **** **** ROTATE ****

Find this Story

Print, a form you can hold

Wireless download to your Amazon Kindle

Look for a summary or analysis of this Story.

Enjoy this? Share it!


by [?]

The face is not without a certain attractiveness; the high cheek- bones, the narrow forehead, and the lines above her brow show that this is no ideal sketch–it is the portrait of a woman who once lived. But the peculiar mark of depravity is the eye: this woman looks at you with a cold, calm, calculating, brazen leer. Hidden in the folds of her dress or in the coil of her hair is a stiletto–she can find it in an instant–and as she looks at you out of those impudent eyes, she is mentally searching out your most vulnerable spot. In this woman’s face there is an entire absence of wonder, curiosity, modesty or passion. All that we call the eternally feminine is obliterated.

“Mona Lisa” is infinitely wise, while this woman is only cunning. All the lure she possesses is the lure of warm, pulsing youth–grown old she will be a repulsive hag. Speculation has made her one of the Borgias, for in the days of Botticelli a Borgia was Pope, and Cesare Borgia and his court were well known to Botticelli–from such a group he could have picked his model, if anywhere. Ruskin has linked this unknown wicked beauty with Machiavelli. But Machiavelli had a head that outmatched hers, and he would certainly have left her to the fool moths that fluttered around her candle. Machiavelli used women, and this woman has only one ambition, and that is to use men. She represents concrete selfishness–the mother-instinct swallowed up in pride, and conscience smothered by hate. Certainly sex is not dead in her, but it is perverted below the brute. Her passion would be so intense and fierce that even as she caressed her lover, with arm about his neck, she would feel softly for his jugular, mindful the while of the stiletto hidden in her hair. And this is the picture that fired the brain of Aubrey Beardsley, and caused him to fix his ambition on becoming the Apostle of the Ugly.

To liken Beardsley to Botticelli, however, seems indeed a sin. The master was an artist, but Beardsley only gave chalk talks. His work is often crude, rude and raw. He is only a promise, turned to dust. Yet let the simple fact stand for what it is worth, that Beardsley had but one god, and that was Botticelli. Most of the things Beardsley did were ugly; many of the things Botticelli did were supremely beautiful.

Yet in all of Botticelli’s work there is a tinge of melancholy–a shade of disappointment. The “Spring” is a sad picture. On the faces of all his tall, fine, graceful girls there is a hectic flush. Their cheeks are hollow, and you feel that their beauty is already beginning to fade. Like fruit too much loved by the sun, they are ready to fall.

Botticelli had the true love nature. By instinct he was a lover, proof of which lies in the fact that he was deeply religious. The woman he loved he has pictured over and over again. The touch of sorrow is ever in her wan face, but she possessed a silken strength, a heroic nature, a love that knew no turning. She had faith in Botticelli, and surely he had faith in her. For forty years she was in his heart; at times he tried to dislodge her and replace her image with another; but he never succeeded, and the last Madonna he drew is the same wistful, loving, patient face–sad yet proud, strong yet infinitely tender.

In that piece of lapidary work, “How Sandro Botticelli Saw Simonetta in the Spring,” is a bit of heart psychology which, I believe, has never been surpassed in English.

Simonetta, of the noble house of Vespucci, was betrothed to Giuliano, brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Simonetta was tall, stately–beautiful as Venus, wise as Minerva and proud as Juno. She knew her worth, realized her beauty, and feeling her power made others feel it, too.