Sandro Botticelli – Artist of the Month on ikonoTV

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Paintings by Sandro Botticelli featured as the Artist of the Month for this month of January on ikonoTV Germany.

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli (ca. 1445 – May 17, 1510) was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine school under the patronage of Lorenzo de’ Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later as a “golden age”, a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli. Botticelli’s posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. Among his best known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera.

Little is known about Botticelli’s life. He was born in the city of Florence and since ca. 1462, he was an apprentice to Fra Filippo Lippi. By 1470, the artist had his own workshop. In 1481, Pope Sixtus IV summoned Botticelli to fresco the walls of the Sistine Chapel together with other famous Florentine and Umbrian artists. Upon his return to Florence, he worked on a commentary and illustration to Dante’s work. In the mid-1480s Botticelli worked on a major fresco cycle with Perugino, Domenico Ghirlandaio and Filippino Lippi for Lorenzo the Magnificent. In addition, he worked on church frescos in Florence.

In later life, Botticelli was one of the followers of the deeply moralistic monk Savonarola who preached in Florence from 1490 until his execution in 1498, though the full extent of Savonarola’s influence remains uncertain.

“The story that he burnt his own paintings on pagan themes in the notorious “Bonfire of the Vanities” is not told by Vasari, who nevertheless asserts that of the sect of Savonarola “he was so ardent a partisan that he was thereby induced to desert his painting, and, having no income to live on, fell into very great distress. For this reason, persisting in his attachment to that party, and becoming a Piagnone he abandoned his work.” Botticelli biographer Ernst Steinmann searched for the artist’s psychological development through his Madonnas. In the “deepening of insight and expression in the rendering of Mary’s physiognomy”, Steinmann discerned proof of Savonarola’s influence over Botticelli. (In Steinmann’s work the dates of a number of Madonnas were placed at a later point in the artist’s life). Steinmann disagreed with Vasari’s assertion that Botticelli produced nothing after coming under the influence of Girolamo Savonarola believing rather that the spiritual and emotional Virgins painted by Sandro followed directly from the teachings of the Dominican monk.

After his death his reputation was eclipsed longer and more thoroughly than that of any other major European artist. His paintings remained in the churches and villas for which they had been created. The first nineteenth century art historian to have looked with satisfaction at Botticelli’s Sistine frescoes was Alexis-François Rio. Rio, Anna Brownell Jameson and Charles Eastlake were alerted to Botticelli, works by his hand began to appear in German collections, and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood incorporated elements of his work into their own. The first monograph on the artist was published in 1893; then, between 1900 and 1920 more books were written on Botticelli than any other painter.

More at Wikipedia.