Portrait of a Young Man
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Renaissance Painter Sandro Botticelli

Earliest Art Work

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This Renaissance painter came into this world as Alessandro Mariana Vanni Filipepi in Florence, Italy in 1445 and became known as famous artist Sandro Botticelli. Botticelli’s father was a tanner who had a shop in Santo Spirito a popular neighborhood in Florence. The painter became an apprentice when he was 14 at the workshop of Fra Filippo Lippi. The earliest artwork Botticelli painted was around 1465 titled “Madonna and Child”. In 1470 he already had his own workshop and even if for some reason this assignment didn’t work out he was asked to do frescos for the Monumental Cemetery in Pisa in 1474.

Most Important Works

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From the years 1475 – 1476 one of Botticelli’s most important artworks is the “Adoration of the Magi”. This painting was commissioned by Gaspare di Zanobe del Lama for his chapel in the Santa Maria Novella Church in Florence. With this artwork the artist comes forth with some important innovations for the very first time – the holy figures are depicted in the center surrounded by other characters (up to this time the Three Kings were always shown to the right or left of the scene), the holy family is shown under a partially destroyed hut along with other semi-destroyed buildings in the background.

Another most interesting thing is that in this painting Botticelli includes the portraits of Cosimo de Medici, his sons Piero and Giovanni and his grandsons Lorenzo the Magnificent and Giuliano. The chapel no longer exists and this marvelous artwork can now be viewed at the Uffizi Gallery.

Gaining Artistic Fame

Through the patronage of the Medici family Botticelli became famous for his artwork and as word spread, he was asked to paint the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1481. He participated in an ambitious project by Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1483. It was to paint frescoes for the Spedaletto Villa in Volterra. Unfortunately today none of these have survived. The artist was on the committee to make a decision about the facade of the Cathedral in Florence in 1491.

Botticelli’s most famous artworks include the “Primavera” and the “Birth of Venus”.

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The “Primavera” was a painting commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’Medici. Even though it is not clear about the subjects in the painting it is known that they’re mythological characters.

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The “Birth of Venus” was once found in the Villa di Castello in 1550 and is now in the Uffizi Gallery.

Later In Life

In his later years, Botticelli was a follower of Friar Savonarola, who preached in Florence from 1490 until he was executed in 1498. It appears the artist was much distressed by the friar’s death. In 1504 Botticelli was aged and almost inactive. He was included in the committee to decide the most suitable location for Michelangelo’s David sculpture.

The artist never got married and expressed a strong dislike for marriage. It is supposed that he suffered from an unrequited love for Simonetta Vespucci, who was a married noblewoman. It is believed that she was the model for “Birth of Venus” even though at this time she was already dead.

An impact crater on the surface of the planet Mercury is called Botticelli in honor of the artist.

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