Alleged self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi. Santa Maria Novella, Florence.
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli ("little barrel") (March 1, 1445 - May 17, 1510) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance (Quattrocento). Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was characterized by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli.
" 1 Biography
" 2 Anthology of works
" 3 References in popular culture
" 4 References
" 5 See also
Born in Florence in the working-class rione of Ognissanti, Botticelli was first apprenticed to a goldsmith, then, following the boy's wishes, his doting father sent him to Fra Filippo Lippi who was at work frescoing the Convent of the Carmine. Lippo Lippi's synthesis of the new control of three-dimensional forms, tender expressiveness in face and gesture, and decorative details inherited from the late Gothic style were the strongest influences on Botticelli. A different influence was the new sculptural monumentality of the Pollaiuolo brothers, who were doing a series of Virtues for the Tribunale or meeting hall of the Mercanzia, a cloth-merchants' confraternity, and Botticelli contributed to the set the Fortitude, dated 1470 in the Uffizi Gallery. He was an apprentice too of Andrea del Verrocchio, where Leonardo da Vinci worked beside him, but he made his name in his local Church of Ognissanti, with a St. Augustine that successfully competed as a pendant with Domenico Ghirlandaio's Jerome on the other side "the head of the saint being expressive of profound thought and quick subtlety" (Vasari). In 1470 he opened his own independent studio.
The Birth of Venus: a revived Venus Pudica for a new view of pagan Antiquity (Uffizi, Florence)
Botticelli came of age in the time of Cosimo de' Medici. He lived to become the favorite painter of Cosimo's eminent grandson, Lorenzo il Magnifico. Lorenzo de' Medici was quick to employ his talent. The artist's paintings chronicle the triumphs of Lorenzo and the destruction of his enemies on the walls of Florence. Botticelli is representative of the Medicean age, his art is as extensive as the culture of the Renaissance itself. Always politically aware, the artist recorded the struggles between the Medici and the Pazzi and the Arrabbiati and the Piagonni. Botticelli made consistent use of the circular tondo form and did many beautiful female nudes, according to Vasari. The Birth of Venus was at the Medici villa of Castello.
Botticelli's Venus graces the first of the Italian euro coins (2002)
He was influenced by Fra Filippo Lippi and Antonio Pollaiuolo. Neoplatonism, with its fusion of pagan and Christian themes and its elevation of estheticism as a transcendental element of art, was deeply influential in his artwork, as it was with his patrons, the Medicis.
Sandro was intensely religious. In later life, he was one of Savonarola's followers and burned his own paintings on pagan themes in the notorious "Bonfire of the Vanities". Botticelli biographer Ernst Steinman searched for the artist's psychological development through his Madonnas. In the deepening of insight and expression in the rendering of Mary's physiognomy, Steinman discerns proof of Savonarola's influence over Botticelli. This means that the biographer needed to alter the dates of a number of Madonnas to substantiate his theory. Specifically, they are dated ten years later than before. Steinman disagrees with Vasari's assertion that Botticelli produced nothing after coming under the influence of Girolamo Savanarola. Steinman believes the spiritual and emotional Virgins rendered by Sandro follow directly from the teachings of the Dominican monk.
Earlier, Botticelli had painted an Assumption of the Virgin for Matteo Palmieri in a chapel at San Pietro Maggiore in which, it was rumored, both the patron who dictated the iconic scheme and the painter who painted it, were guilty of unidentified heresy, a delicate requirement in such a subject. The heretical notions seem to be gnostic in character:
By the side door of San Piero Maggiore he did a panel for Matteo Palmieri, with a large number of figures representing the Assumption of Our Lady with zones of patriarchs, prophets, apostles, evangelists, martyrs, confessors, doctors, virgins, and the orders of angels, the whole from a design given to him by Matteo, who was a worthy and learned man. He executed this work with the greatest mastery and diligence, introducing the portraits of Matteo and his wife on their knees. But although the great beauty of this work could find no other fault with it, said that Matteo and Sandro were guilty of grave heresy. Whether this be true or not, I cannot say. (Giorgio Vasari)
This is a common misconception based on a mistake by Vasari. The painting referred to here, now in the National Gallery in London, is by the artist Botticini. Vasari confused their similar sounding names.
Primavera (1478): icon of the springtime renewal of the Florentine Renaissance, also at the summer palazzo of Pierfrancesco de' Medici, as a companion piece to the Birth of Venus and Pallas and the Centaur. Left to right: Mercury, the Three Graces, Venus, Flora, Chloris, Zephyrus. Notice the Venus figure at center resembles a Madonna, the tree branches about her head acting as a subtle halo - thereby demonstrating the neoplatonic fusion of paganism and Christianity - but faces are real portraits: for instance, the Grace on the right side is Caterina Sforza. Though comparatively few of Botticelli's mythological paintings survive, Primavera epitomises his use of classical mythology as a vehicle to illustrate sentiments actually derived from medieval courtly love. (Jean Seznec's book on the survival and new uses of pagan Antiquity in the Renaissance explores these themes.) Primavera can also be read as