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Sandro Botticelli

Botticelli, Sandro (sänˈdrō bôtˌtĭchĕlˈlē) [key], c.1444–1510, Florentine painter of the Renaissance, whose real name was Alessandro di Mariano Filipepiälĕssänˈdrō dē märēäˈnō fēlēpāˈpē. He was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi, whose delicate coloring can be seen in such early works as the Adoration of the Kings (National Gall., London) and Chigi Madonna (Gardner Mus., Boston). Elements of the more vigorous style of Pollaiuolo and Verrocchio soon entered his paintings, e.g., Fortitude (Uffizi), St. Augustine (Ognissanti), and Portrait of a Young Man (Uffizi). He was one of the greatest colorists in Florence and a master of the rhythmic line. He became a favorite painter of the Medici, whose portraits he included, in addition to a self-portrait, among the splendid figures in the Adoration of the Magi (Uffizi). In 1481 Pope Sixtus IV asked him to help decorate the Sistine Chapel. After painting three biblical frescoes he returned to Florence, where he reached the height of his popularity. Through the Medici he came into contact with the Neoplatonic circle and was influenced by the ideas of Ficino and Poliziano. His mythological allegories, Spring, Birth of Venus, Mars and Venus, and Pallas Subduing a Centaur, allude, in general, to the triumph of love and reason over brutal instinct. Probably in the 1490s he drew the visionary illustrations for the Divine Comedy. He painted a set of frescoes for the Villa Tornabuoni (Louvre) and created a series of radiant Madonnas, including the Magnificat and the Madonna of the Pomegranate (Uffizi). From Alberti's description, he re-created the famous lost work of antiquity, The Calumny of Apelles. Religious passion is evident in the Nativity (National Gall., London), Last Communion of St. Jerome (Metropolitan Mus.) and Pietà (Fogg Mus., Cambridge). In the 19th cent. the Pre-Raphaelites rediscovered him. Supported by Ruskin, they admired what they considered to be the extreme refinement and poignancy of his conceptions.

See studies by H. P. Horne (1908), L. Venturi (1949, repr. 1961), G. C. Argan (tr. by J. Emmons, 1957), and L. D. and H. Ettlinger (1985).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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