Топик: Botticelli, Sandro
name ALESSANDRO DI MARIANO FILIPEPI (b. 1445, Florence [Italy]--d. May 17,
1510, Florence), Florentine early Renaissance painter whose Birth of
Venus (c. 1485) and Primavera (1477-78) are often said to
epitomize for modern viewers the spirit of the Renaissance. His ecclesiastical
commissions included work for all the major churches of Florence and for the
Sistine Chapel in Rome. His name is derived from his elder brother Giovanni, a
pawnbroker, who was called Il Botticello ("The Little Barrel").
he was one of the most individual painters of the Italian Renaissance, Sandro
Botticelli remained little known for centuries after his death. Then his work
was rediscovered late in the 19th century by a group of artists in England
known as the Pre-Raphaelites.
Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi in Florence in 1445, Botticelli was apprenticed
to a goldsmith. Later he was a pupil of the painter Fra Filippo Lippi. He spent
all his life in Florence except for a visit to Rome in 1481-82. There he
painted wall frescoes in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican.
Florence, Botticelli was a protege of several members of the powerful Medici
family. He painted portraits of the family and many religious pictures,
including the famous The Adoration of the Magi. The most original
of his paintings are those illustrating Greek and Roman legends. The best known
are the two large panels Primavera and The Birth of Venus.
Botticelli: Lyrical Precision
Masaccio, Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Moriano Filipepi, 1444/5-1510) comes
as the next great painter of the Florentine tradition. The new, sharply
contoured, slender form and rippling sinuous line that is synonymous with
Botticelli was influenced by the brilliant, precise draftsmanship of the
Pollaiuolo brothers, who trained not only as painters, but as goldsmiths,
engravers, sculptors, and embroidery designers. However, the rather stiff,
scientifically formulaic appearance of the Pollaiuolos' painting of The
Martyrdom of St Sebastian, for instance, which clearly follows
anatomical dictates, finds no place in the painting of Botticelli. His
sophisticated understanding of perspective, anatomy, and the Humanist debate of
the Medici court never overshadows the sheer poetry of his vision. Nothing is
more gracious, in lyrical beauty, than Botticelli's mythological paintings Primavera
and The Birth of Venus, where the pagan story is taken with
reverent seriousness and Venus is the Virgin Mary in another form. But it is
also significant that no-one has ever agreed on the actual subject of Primavera,
and a whole shelf in a library can be taken up with different theories; but
though scholars may argue, we need no theories to make Primavera
dear to us. In this allegory of life, beauty, and knowledge united by love,
Botticelli catches the freshness of an early spring morning, with the pale
light shining through the tall, straight trees, already laden with their golden
fruit: oranges, or the mythical Golden Apples of the Hesperides?
the right Zephyr, the warm wind of Spring, embraces the Roman goddess Flora, or
perhaps the earth nymph Chloris, disphanously clad and running from his amorous
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 (or perhaps her daughter
Persephone, who spends half her time beneath the earth, as befits the patron
saint of flowers) as she steps forward clad in blossoms. In the centre is a
gentle Venus, all dignity and promise of spiritual joy, and above her, the
infant Cupid aims his loving arrows. To the left, the Three Graces dance in a
silent reverie of grace, removed from the others in time also, as indicated by
the breeze that wafts their hair and clothes in the opposite direction from
Zephyr's gusts. Mercury, the messenger of the gods, provides another male
counterpart to the Zephyr. Zephyr initiates, breathing love into the warmth he
brings to a wintry world, and Mercury sublimates, taking the hopes of humanity
and opening the way to the gods.
in this miraculous work is profoundly life-enhancing. Yet it offers no
safeguards against pain or accident: Cupid is blindfolded as he flies, and the
graces seem enclosed in their own private bliss. So the poetry has an
underlying wistfulness, a sort of musing nostalgia for something that we cannot
possess, yet something with which we feel so deeply in tune. Even the gentle
yet strong colors speak of this ambivalence: the figures have an unmistakable
presence and weight as they stand before us, moving in the slowest of rhythms.
Yet they also seem insubstantial, a dream of what might be rather than a sight
of what is.
longing, this hauntingly intangible sadness is even more visible in the lovely
face of Venus as she is wafted to our dark shores by the winds, and the
garment, rich though it is, waits ready to cover up her sweet and naked body.
We cannot look upon love unclothed, says The Birth of Venus; we
are too weak, maybe too polluted, to bear the beauty.
accepted that paganism, too, was a religion and could bear profoundly
philosophical significance. His religious paintings manifest this belief by
converging all truths into one.
seems to have had a personal devotion to the biblical account of The
Adoration of the Magi, setting it in a ruined classical world. This was
not uncommon Renaissance device, suggesting that the birth of Christ brought
fulfilment to the hopes of everyone, completing the achievements of the past.
no painter felt this with the intensity of Botticelli. We feel that he
desperately needed this psychic reassurance, and that the wild graphic power of
his Adoration's great circles of activity, coming to rest on the
still center of the Virgin and her Child, made visible his own interior
circlings. Even the far green hills sway in sympathy with the clustered humans
as if by magnetic attraction around the incarnate Lord.
was not the only Florentine to be blessed or afflicted by an intensely anxious
temperament. In the 1490s, the city of Florence was overtaken by a political
crisis. The Medici government fell, and there followed a four-year period of
extremist religious rule under the zealot Savonarola. Either in response to
this, or possibly out of some desire of his own for stylistic experimentation,
Botticelli produced a series of rather clumsy-looking religious works--the San
Bernabo Altarpiece is an example.
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