Here are these works, save, of course, for Giuliano's standard which has been lost.
Pallas Athene taming a Centaur
Details: Pallas, is the sister of the Graces in the Lemmi Villa, as well as Jethro's daughters in the Sistine Chapel with both the same length and languor, admirably rendered. In addition, to make sure that Pierfrancesco realized immediately who had given him the gift, Semiramis wore a dress, embroidered with Lorenzo the Magnificent's insignia: three or four diamond rings, depending on the location. On the dress' detail, the three rings indicate the Magnificent's affiliation with this work, of which he seemingly dictated the subject matter.
This is a marriage commission from the Vespucci family. In these Florentine families, the important moment of the marriage was the day before, when the bride's dowry was exhibited in front of the house - silverware, gilded silver and jewels - in caskets which became more and more ornate and extravagant and which were called "cassones". As the 15th and 16th centuries went by, the caskets became monuments and the greatest artists would be asked to decorate them. Botticelli would be commissioned to paint this one for a Vespucci marriage. This work's strange format, its dimension of length, somewhat in the shape of the base of an altarpiece, is thus the result of the fact that it was the front of a "cassone".
Once again, the subject is philosophical rather than mythological. It should be noted that in passing from the first painting to the second and, even more so in passing from the second to the third, that the myths of Antiquity are not used anecdotally or for their folklore, nor for the liberty that one could afford in the details, but really more and more in a philosophical vein. In this painting, we are shown the young bride, depicted as Venus, contemplating her young husband, depicted as Mars, as he sleeps. Venus is Love and Harmony, Mars is War and Discord. Human nature consists of these two things, and the union of Venus and Mars could only create a balance of these forces and, thus, perfection. These Neo-Platonic lessons in morality which Botticelli delivers here were dictated by the patron. There is a very pretty small detail - small satyrs have stolen Mars' weapons and are playing at war in the background. We know that this is a Vespucci commission, as there are wasps coming out of the stump; "vespe" means wasp in Italian, and "vespi" are present in the Vespucci coat of arms.
Botticelli's first insolently superb affirmation of pagan beauty can be found in the image of this admirable, bodiless Venus - the body has been replaced by an extremely subtle play of the finest cloths and, at the same time, this braid which contains and reveals them. On the other side, one of Botticelli's first heroic nudes, this Mars with his drowsy features and the light on his face, which all Florence came to see. The patches of light on his face makes his sleep even deeper. This manner of sculpting a face with patches of sunlight, in the true sense of the term, was very new and remarked upon in Florence at that time. To show how well Botticelli could paint down to smallest detail, here is the little satyr who has gotten hold of Mars' helmet.
In any event, this work caused a lot of commotion, so much commotion that the noisiest of the Florentines, the famous Lorenzo de Pierfrancesco de' Medici, in the desire to make his villa more beautiful than it had ever been, commissioned two new paintings from Botticelli. The Birth of Venus and Spring; this would be his pinnacle. Later we shall look at the Story of Nastagio degli Onesti.