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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli (1445 – 1510) was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance who belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici. His mythological masterpieces are his best-known works today. However, he painted a range of religious subjects and portraits. He and his workshop were primarily known for their many beautiful Madonna and Child paintings.

Botticelli lived all his life in the same neighbourhood of Florence, and his only significant time elsewhere was the few months he spent painting in Pisa in 1474 and his work at the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1481–82.

Botticelli’s Masterpieces

  • Venus and Mars
    • “Venus and Mars” by Sandro Botticelli portray Venus, the Roman goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war, as a coupled reclining in a forest setting, surrounded by playful baby satyrs. It is an allegory of beauty and bravery, representing an ideal view of sensuous marriage and love. Based on the subject of the composition and the unusual wide format of this masterpiece, the painting was probably intended to commemorate a wedding and was created to be set into a piece of furniture to adorn the bedroom of the bride and groom. Museum: The National Gallery, London

Sandro Botticelli

  • The Story of Lucretia
    • “The Story of Lucretia” by Sandro Botticelli is a tempera and oil painting on wood, painted between 1496 and 1504 during the Italian Renaissance. The subject of this painting is the legend of at Lucretia, a noblewoman, who was raped by the son of the king of Rome, Sextus Tarquinius. Lucretia, believing that the rape dishonoured her and her family, committed suicide by stabbing herself with a dagger after telling what had occurred to her. Museum:  Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston

Sandro Botticelli

  • The Virgin and the Child in a Niche
    • “The Virgin and the Child in a Niche” by Sandro Botticelli portrays the Madonna and Child in an intimate and playful composition. Botticelli’s Virgins are always beautiful, in the same idealised way as his mythological figures, and often richly dressed in a contemporary style. In this version, we can see the Madonna tickling the Child with the forefinger of her right hand, and the Child’s toe appears to respond in a very naturalistic way to his mother’s playful gesture. Museum: Museo Soumaya

Sandro Botticelli

  • The Birth of Venus
    • “The Birth of Venus” by Sandro Botticelli depicts the goddess Venus emerging from the sea after her birth fully grown. Venus is the Roman goddess of love, beauty, desire, fertility, prosperity and victory. In mythology, she was the mother of the Roman people through her son, Aeneas, who survived the fall of Troy and fled to Italy. Venus was central to many religious festivals and revered in Roman religion. Museum: Uffizi Gallery

Sandro Botticelli

  • Primavera
    • “Primavera” by Sandro Botticelli depicts a group of figures from classical mythology in a garden, brought together by Botticelli as an allegory based on the promised renewal of Spring and the seasons. The meaning of this masterpiece is debated by art historians, as the composition draws from many classical and Renaissance literary sources. Museum:  Uffizi Gallery

Sandro Botticelli

  • Adoration of the Magi
    • The “Adoration of the Magi” by Sandro Botticelli is based on the traditional subject of the Nativity of Jesus in which the three Magi, who found Jesus by following a star and then laid gifts before him and worship him. This story is in the Bible by Matthew 2:11: “On entering the house, they saw the child with Mary, and they knelt and paid homage to him. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh”. In this painting by the Italian Renaissance master Botticelli, there are many more people present and the scene is dominated by members of the Medici family and their close friends. Painted in 1475 it is one of at least seven versions of The Adoration of the Magi created by Botticelli and one of the earliest in his career.  Museum: Uffizi Gallery

Sandro Botticelli

  • The Trials of Moses
    • “The Trials of Moses” by Sandro Botticelli is a fresco, executed in 1481–1482 at the Sistine Chapel, Rome. The fresco shows four episodes from Moses’ life, taken from Exodus. Firstly, Moses is depicted on the right, killing the Egyptian who was mistreating a Hebrew, and he is then shown fleeing to the desert. Moses is distinguishable in the scenes by his yellow dress and the green cloak. Museum:   Vatican Museums, Sistine Chapel, Rome

Sandro Botticelli

  • Mystic Nativity
    • The “Mystical Nativity” by Sandro Botticelli depicts the joy and celebration, of earthly and heavenly delight at the birth of Jesus. The angels are dancing at the top of the painting, and above them is Botticelli’s name, but also some apocalyptic and troubling words. Botticelli believed himself to be living during the Great Tribulation due to the upheavals in Europe at the time and the preaching of the time that was predicting Christ’s return as stated in the Bible. It is Botticelli’s only signed work and has an unusual iconography for a Nativity. Museum:  The National Gallery, London

Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli

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Reflections

  • What makes Botticelli paintings masterpieces?

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“There are three classes of people:
Those who see.
Those who see when they are shown.
Those who do not see.”

– Leonardo da Vinci

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Photo Credit: Sandro Botticelli [Public domain or Public domain] 2) Museo Soumaya [Public domain]

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