Alleged self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi. , .
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli ("little barrel") (, – , ) was an of the Florentine school during the Early (). Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of , was characterized by as a "", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli.
Born in 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 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 , 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 , dated in the . He was an apprentice too of , where worked beside him, but he made his name in his local , with a that successfully competed as a pendant with 's Jerome on the other side "the head of the saint being expressive of profound thought and quick subtlety" (Vasari). In he opened his own independent studio.
: a revived Venus Pudica for a new view of pagan (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 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 (2002)
He was influenced by and . , 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 's followers and burned his own paintings on pagan themes in the notorious "". 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 , a delicate requirement in such a subject. The heretical notions seem to be 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.