Sandro Botticelli born Alessandro Di Mariano dei Filipepi, he acquired his nickname Botticelli (‘little barrel’) from his brother Giovanni, who raised him and who was himself thus named.
From 1458 to 1467 Sandro Botticelli worked in the studio of Fra Lippo Lippi before branching out on his own. By 1480 he was working on the frescoes for the Sistine Chapel and his lesser works consist mainly of religious paintings, although it is for his treatment of allegorical and mythological subjects that he is best remembered.
Outstanding in this group are his paintings Primavera and The Birth of Venus, both now in the Uffizi. Sandro Botticelli also excelled as a portraitist and provided the illustrations for Dante’s Divine Comedy, which he executed in pen and ink and silverpoint.
Botticelli's Primavera, confirms the artist as the leading figure in a truly remarkable period of art history. At the height of his artistic career, Botticelli painted great secular allegories, of which Primavera is the most complex thanks to the Florentine painters and his patrons, a thousand years after the fall of the Roman Empire, the European West rediscovered large-format mythological painting. The overall meaning of his allegories is clear: a harmonious relationship between human beings and the world can only be achieved through the triumph of reason, intelligence, and beauty over brute force and arms. It could be said that this was, in essence, the premise of the entire humanist movement in Italy, even if, it was often contradicted and obstructed by the rivalry between the small states forced to share the country.
His long artistic career began at the height of humanism and extended to the dawn of Mannerism. Beginning as a pupil of Filippo Lippi in 1464. and then as an assistant of Verrocchio, the young Botticelli painted variations on the theme of the Madonna and Child. In 1472 he joined the guild of Florentine painters and entered the Medici circles. He painted portraits of various members of the family and produced increasingly important works, such as the Adoration of the Magi. The Magi's visit to the manger in Bethlehem was a favorite theme of the Medici family, who commissioned the work and whose members are portrayed amongst the figures in the painting. The young man on the far right is a self-portrait of the artist. The Primavera marks the beginning of a cycle of allegories, which also included The Birth of Venus and Pallas and the Centaur. In 1482, at the height of his fame, he was called to Rome to paint three frescoes in the Sistine Chapel. Upon his return to Florence, he was recognized as the indisputable leading painter of the local school.
The death of Lorenzo the Magnificent marked the end of an era, and Florence entered a deep moral and political crisis. The monk Savonarola, took on the role of spiritual guide and criticized the recent past as a depraved and intolerably frivolous era. Books and paintings were burned, including some of Botticelli's. The period of Savonarola was a terrible trauma for the history of art and for Sandro Botticelli in particular. It caused him to have a nervous breakdown, which is painfully reflected in his last, desperate, but still beautiful paintings. In his final intense creative period, he produced works of great spirituality.
The Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood incorporated elements of his work into their own. The first book on the artist was published in 1893; then, between 1900 and 1920 more books were written on Botticelli than on any other painter.
Art Movement History: Renaissance, Florentine School.
Artists Influencing Sandro Botticelli: Fra Lippo Lippi, Andrea del Verrocchio.
He Traveled To Hungary.
Painters Sandro Botticelli Influenced: The Pre-Raphaelites.
Artist's Biography compiled by Albert L. Mansour at The World's Artist.