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Sue Hamric

Art Appreciation 101

Tim Hahn

October 0, 00

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Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli, was a famous painter

of the Florentine Renaissance. Botticelli was born in Florence, Italy in the year 1445. to a

tanner. His nickname Botticelli was derived from Botticello, which means ?little barrel?, it has

been said that the nickname was also his older brothers and was passed down to him at some


Botticelli began as an apprentice under a local goldsmith, next he served an

apprenticeship under Fra Filippo Lippi, a painter. He later worked with the painter and engraver

Antonio del Pollaiuolo from whom his sense of line derived another one of Botticelli?s influences was Andrea del Verrocchio.

In 1470, by the age twenty-five, Botticelli had his own workshop. Many of his patrons were some of the greatest families in Florence. Above all most of his work was done for the Medici family. Being in the court of Lorenzo de Medici, Botticelli was greatly influenced by the Christian Neoplatonism, which was a form of art that tried to reconcile classical and Christian views.

From 1481 to 148 Botticelli was commissioned to join Perugino, Ghirlandaio, and Rosselli in Rome to paint frescoes on the walls of the Sistine Chapel. On the walls he painted The Youth of Moses, the Punishment of the Sons of Corah, and the Temptation of Christ.

In the 140?s the Medici?s were expelled form Florence and the monk Girolanmo Savonarola preached reform and austerity, it was at this time Botticelli began to go through a religious crisis. His works such as the Mystic Nativity, and Mystic Crucifixion reflected an intense religious devotion.

Sandro Botticelli did not paint in the latter years of his life. His last six years of life are unaccounted for, there have been no paintings found form that time of his life. Botticelli died in May of 1510.

Being of the Florentine Renaissance Botticelli?s works were mostly based on mythological and Christian characters. In almost all of Botticelli?s paintings tempera was used to paint, either on canvas or panel. For non-religious paintings that would be found in the church or in the court.

Botticelli was interested in dynamics, and he introduced movement as a means of creating flowing linear compositions or as an expression of narrative content, but never in the interest of depicting the muscularity of the human body in action. In all of his paintings you may view his use of the flowing line; all of Botticelli?s figures are incapable of ever being entirely static.

Two of his most famous paintings were the Birth of Venus (circa 148), and the Primavera (circa 1478). Both of these were paintings representing mythological happenings.

The Birth of Venus was painted for the villa of Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de Medici at Castello. This painting represented a classical myth instead of a Christian legend. At the time of the Renaissance the Italians were in deep admiration of the Greek and Roman views of mythology. They were so convinced of the superior wisdom of the ancients that they believed these classical legends must contain some profound and mysterious truth.

Taking a deeper look at the painting of the Birth of Venus we break up the painting into four different parts. The ?west wind?, located in the upper-left corner, Zephyr and Chloris fly with limbs entwined as a twofold entity. Zephyr is vigorously puffing while Chloris gently sighs the warm breath that sends Venus ashore. All around them are falling roses. Each with a golden heart, which according to legend came into being at Venus? birth. The ?wooded shore?, located in the upper-right, are trees that form parts of a flowering orange grove. Each small white blossom of the orange trees is tipped with gold, as gold is used throughout the painting portraying its role as the divine status of Venus. The ?Nymph?, located to the right of Venus, may be on of ?The Hours?, who were attendants to Venus. Both the Nymph?s dress and Venus? robe are decorated in spring flowers, appropriated to the theme of birth. She wears a garland of myrtle, the tree of Venus, and a sash of pink roses, as worn by the goddess Flora in Botticelli?s Primavera. Venus, located in the center, is standing on a scallop shell about to take her first step onto the shore. Here what we see is not actually her birth out of the waves, but the moment when, having been conveyed by the shell, she lands at Paphos in Cyprus.

In 1478 Lorenzo di Pier Francesco de Medici had Botticelli painted the Primavera for his country home. For the same reasons as the Birth of Venus this mythological happening was painted.

At the right Zephyr, the warm wind of Spring, embraces the Roman goddess Flora, or perhaps the earth nymph Chloris, as she is trying to run form his clasp. She is shown at the moment of her metamorphosis into Flora, as her breath turns to flowers which take root over the countryside. Across from her, we see Flora as a goddess, in all her glory as she steps forward covered in blossoms. In the center is a gentle Venus, all dignified with the promise of spiritual joy, and above her, the infant Cupid aims his loving arrows. To the left, the Three Graces dance gracefully in silence, removed from the others in time, as indicated by the breeze that blows their hair and clothes in the opposite direction from Zephyr?s guest. To the left of the Graces, Mercury turns as if to indicate the passage of spring towards summer.

I chose to write on Sandro Botticelli for a few reasons. First just the utter beauty of the painting it?s breathtaking approach to the male and female roles in mythology. Next for all the flowers in the painting, I love roses. Botticelli dose not paint flowers like a lot of artist. He has them floating around Venus in mid air. Without water, vases, but they are still as fresh as the day they would have been cut, but where painted. The final reason would be for the differences in how he paints the male and female images. Venus so pure and innocent, naked but covered. And the male so powerful you can actually see his breath, (making the seasons change). I guess like the era the painting was painted in with the manly king and the beautiful queen.

In doing my research I found the Primavera, which like the Birth of Venus had a lot of different dimensions to look at. It also had a lot of different analytical views as to what each character was doing, which made my research more interesting to me.

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