why is sandro botticelli important
Sandro Botticelli was born several generations after Donatello (1386 – 1466), Masaccio (1401 – 1428), and their associates who gave Florentine art its direction, and just before it took a great turn in the works of Leonardo da Vinci, Michelangelo, and others. Botticelli worked in an established, almost traditional manner at a point just before such a style went out of fashion.
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Botticelli’s name is derived from that of his elder brother Giovanni, a pawnbroker who was called Botticello (“Little Barrel”). As is often the case with Renaissance artists, most of the modern information about Botticelli’s life and character derives from Giorgio Vasari’s Lives of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, & Architects, as supplemented and corrected from documents. Botticelli’s father was a tanner who apprenticed Sandro to a goldsmith after his schooling was finished. But, since Sandro preferred painting, his father then placed him under Filippo Lippi, who was one of the most admired Florentine masters.
About 1478–81 Botticelli entered his artistic maturity; all tentativeness in his work disappeared and was replaced by a consummate mastery. He was able to integrate figure and setting into harmonious compositions and to draw the human form with a compelling vitality. He would later display unequaled skill at rendering narrative texts, whether biographies of saints or stories from Boccaccio’s Decameron or Dante’s Divine Comedy, into a pictorial form that is at once exact, economical, and eloquent.
Sandro Botticelli, The Madonna and Child, with a pomegranate, in an alcove with roses behind. Courtesy of Christie’s London.
A relief sculpture of Bernardino of Siena organizing the vanities bonfire. The sculpture is in Perugia, on the Oratorio di San Bernardino, by Agostino di Duccio, built between 1457 and 1461. Courtesy of Giovanni Dall’Orto, via Wikimedia Commons.
Detail of Venus and Cupid
Detail of Flora, Zephyr, and Chloris
Alessandro Filipepi, commonly known as Sandro Botticelli, was born around 1445. He lived in the time of Lorenzo de Medici, “Il Magnifico.” Botticelli became an important figure in the early Italian Renaissance in Florence. First, he studied under a goldsmith named Botticelli and met professional artists. Soon his father sent him to study under the Renaissance painter, Fra Filippo Lippi.
The “Birth of Venus” (c. 1484-1486) is Botticelli’s other signature work. This time Venus is displayed in the nude. Her form is an adult woman true to the belief that she was born in a womanly body. Her long, golden hair flows down around the left side of her body to cover her delicate femininity. In a wind of roses, Zephyr and Chloris deliver her to her attendant. The change in setting from the first painting to the second painting is from the beautiful forest to the calm seashore.