Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli, fully named Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi is an important representative of the early Renaissance period. He was born in Florence, probably in the year 1445, and died on May 17, 1510. This Italian painter was part of the Florentine school that Lorenzo de’ Medici patronized and, though his work’s reputation suffered until the 19th century, he is now considered a major influence and representative of the period.

Sandro Botticelli began his apprenticeship at the age of fourteen, which gave him a great advantage over other artists of his time, though he also worked in his brother’s goldsmith workshop. His mentor was Fra Filippo Lippi, who taught him everything he knew about painting. In 1470 Sandro Botticelli already had his own atelier and his works already presented traits of his maturity works that would make him famous. One of his first works that gained widespread attention was his representation of the Adoration of the Magi in which he used Cosimo de Medici, his sons Giovanni and Piero and his grandsons Giuliano and Lorenzo as models and which was painted for the Santa Maria Novella church.

The painter also helped at the completion of the Sistine Chapel, along with other artists from Florence and Umbria. Sandro Botticelli contributed with Temptations of Christ, Punishment of the Rebels and Trial of Moses. He also read Dante’s Inferno, which inspired him to create some representations, later used at the first printing of the book. Botticelli’s masterpieces are to this day his Primavera and The Birth of Venus, both painted somewhere around 1482-1485. The paintings show influences of Gothic realism, as well as Botticelli’s knowledge of the antique and they are still the subject of debate among scholars, who find it fascinating that neither represents an actual story, but are inspired from several texts and are highly poetical and mystifying.

Unfortunately, Botticelli was strongly influenced by the harsh teachings of Friar Savonarola, who accused the Vatican and the nobles of greed and sinning. Being so dedicated to Savonarola’s teachings, Botticelli’s work rarefied and even if he’d receive commissions, he refused them if the subject was not to his liking and fitted with his new philosophy. His method of painting changed, almost to the point that it resembled 100-years old techniques; perhaps these things contributed to his being forgotten for a very long time, until the end of the 19th century when he was rediscovered and scholars tried understanding his works once more.