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Botticelli

The image “https://i2.wp.com/www.bau.pt/weblog/botticelli-venus-768.jpg” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) was a Renaissance painter from Florence. He is famous for two paintings: “The Birth of Venus” (part of it pictured here) and the “Primavera”. Both hang in the Uffizi in Florence.

Although he was famous in his own day, he was soon outdone by Leonardo and Raphael. By 1500, when he was 55, his work already seemed old-fashioned. He was forgotten for centuries till the late 1800s when Pater, Ruskin and the pre-Raphaelites rediscovered him. He has influenced not just the pre-Raphaelites but also the Art Nouveau style of the early 1900s.

He painted for the powerful Medici family and the churches of Florence. In 1481 and 1482 he went to Rome to help paint the Sistine Chapel for the pope.

A true son of the Renaissance, he painted not just Christian themes – including many Madonnas and angels – but Greek and Roman themes too. He was one of the first.

“Primavera” means spring. The three women you see dancing in the painting are the three months of spring. The painting is set in the Garden of the Hesperides

The “Birth of Venus” was the first painting in the Christian West of a naked woman. It is based on “Venus Pudica”, a statue from ancient times – and yet his Venus is very much like his Virgin Marys.

The woman Botticelli painted as Venus is believed to be Simonetta Vespucci. You see her in the “Primavera”, “Venus and Mars” and some other paintings.

Simonetta was a beauty of her day and perhaps a lover of one of the Medicis. She is a cousin by marriage of Amerigo Vespucci, after whom America is named. She died at 23. When Botticelli finished the “Birth of Venus”, she had been dead for nine years. He asked to be laid to rest at her feet when he died. And so he was.

Botticelli’s real name was Allessandro di Mariano Filipepi. He did poorly in school, so his father sent him to a goldsmith to learn a trade. Later, however, Botticelli was sent to Fra Lippi to learn painting.

Botticelli was influenced by the philosophy of the Renaissance Neoplatonists Ficino and Poliziano. Love and Beauty and all that.

Botticelli took his art theory from Leon Battista Alberti. Like Alberti, he wanted to bring back the lost glories of Greek and Roman art.

Although the people in his paintings seem natural they are not. The neck of his Venus is too long, for example. But Botticelli was not interested in making painting “true to life”.

To Botticelli, painter and poet were brothers, not painter and scientist. People did not see this quality in him until the invention of photography changed the way they looked at art.

Botticelli was working on drawings for Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, a book he loved. He never finished but we have 92 of his drawings.

Botticelli could make 50 to 100 florins (100 to 200 crowns) a painting. His best years were from 1475 to 1495.

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