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Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter and draughtsman. During his lifetime he was one of the most acclaimed painters in Italy, being summoned to take part in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and earning the patronage of the leading families of Florence, including the Medici.
Botticelli, Sandro, real name Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi (1445-1510),
one of the leading painters of the Florentine Renaissance. He developed a highly personal style characterized by elegant execution, a sense of melancholy, and a strong emphasis on line; details in his paintings appear as sumptuous still life. Botticelli was born in Florence, the son of a tanner. The name ("little barrel") by which he became known was either the nickname of his elder brother or the name of the goldsmith to whom he was first apprenticed. Later he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi. He worked with the painter and engraver Antonio del Pollaiuolo, from whom he gained his sense of line, and came under the influence of Andrea del Verrocchio. By 1470, Botticelli had his own workshop. He spent almost all of his life working for the great Florentine families, especially the Medici family, for whom he painted portraits, most notably the Giuliano de' Medici (1475-1476, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.).

Adoration of the Magi (1476-1477, Uffizi, Florence) was painted on commission (though not for the Medicis), and contains likenesses of the Medici family. As part of the brilliant intellectual and artistic circle at the court of Lorenzo de' Medici, Botticelli was influenced by its Christian Neoplatonism, which sought to reconcile Classical and Christian views. This synthesis is expressed in Primavera (c. 1478) and Birth of Venus (after 1482), two panels commissioned for Medici villas and now in the Uffizi, probably Botticelli's best-known works. While scholars have not yet conclusively deciphered these paintings, their slender elegant figures, which form abstract linear patterns bathed in soft golden light, may depict Venus as a symbol of both pagan and Christian love.

Botticelli also painted religious subjects, especially panels of the Madonna, such as the Madonna of the Magnificat (1480s), Madonna of the Pomegranate (1480s), and Coronation of the Virgin (1490), all in the Uffizi, and Madonna and Child with Two Saints (1485, Staatliche Museen, Berlin). Other religious works include St Sebastian (1473-1474, Staatliche Museen) and a fresco, St Augustine (1480, Ognissanti, Florence). In 1481 Botticelli was one of several artists chosen to go to Rome to decorate the walls of the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican. There he executed The Youth of Moses, the Punishment of the Sons of Corah, and the Temptation of Christ.

In the 1490s, when the Medici were expelled from Florence and the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola preached austerity and reform, Botticelli experienced a religious crisis. His subsequent works, such as the Piet (early 1490s, Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan) and especially the Mystic Nativity (1490s, National Gallery, London) and Mystic Crucifixion (c. 1496, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts), reflect an intense religious devotion. Botticelli died in Florence on May 17, 1510.