The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti

This series of three panels shows one of the tales from Boccaccio’s Decameron, “The Cruel Lovers’ Inferno”. Along with a fourth panel, which currently belongs to a private collection and which shows the final scene of the Wedding Feast, they originally decorated the sides of a dowry chest, which was given to the bride as a magnificent wedding present.

Each scene tells several stories at once. In the first scene, for instance, we can see a young man looking very forlorn because he has been rejected by the woman he loves. He is wandering through the forest, when he witnesses an appalling scene: he sees a naked woman running away from a horseman. She is about to be caught by the dogs. In the second panel, the rider reaches her, kills her and tears out her heart and throws it to the dogs. She immediately gets up and the scene starts all over again. The horseman tells the young man that the women turned him down and refused to marry him, so he committed suicide. The two are condemned to repeat the scene for all eternity. In the third panel, the young man decides to make use of the apparition, and invites his own beloved to a picnic in place where it occurs. The girl is horrified, and decides to marry him.

Botticelli is one of greatest exponents of Italian Renaissance painting. All his works are extremely beautiful: the landscapes, the colours, the composition and the expressiveness of the characters. The group of women attending the feast, with the bride-to-be amongst them, is one of the most delightful parts of this set of paintings, and displays the feminine ideal that Botticelli was to repeat throughout his oeuvre.

(c) (R) 2013, MUSMon com S.L.
Text (a) Catalina Serrano Romero
English translation (a) Thisbe Burns