Noblewoman, Artist's Model, Folk Figure. Called "La bella Simonetta", she was a celebrated beauty who served as a model for the leading painters of her day, most notably Sandro Botticelli. Born to a noble family she married Marco Vespucci at around 15 and thru his family met Botticelli, the great artist painting several portraits of her and making her the central figure in "Nascita di Venere" (1484-85) and "Primavera" (1482). Simonetta was portrayed by others, with Piero di Cosimo depicting her as Cleopatra with the asp around her neck. According to legend she was desired by a number of the leading noblemen of Florence including the Medici brothers. In 1475 a jousting tournament was held of which she became the queen awarding the winner with a fine helmet crafted by Verrocchio, with Giuliano de Medici winning while carrying a banner depicting her which had been painted by Botticelli. Reportedly that Giuliano became her lover. When Simonetta died of tuberculosis she was buried with the Vespucci family. Further legend states that Botticelli was in love with her and when he died in 1510 was buried at her feet, actually his grave is in the same church.
Bio by: Bob Hufford