Agnolo Bronzino

Agnolo Gaddi

Ambrogio Lorenzetti

Andreadi di Bonaiuto

Andrea del Castagno

Andrea del Sarto

Andrea di Bartolo

Andrea Mantegna

Antonello da Messina

Antonio del Pollaiuolo

Bartolo di Fredi

Bartolomeo di Giovanni

Benozzo Gozzoli

Benvenuto di Giovanni

Bernard Berenson

Bernardo Daddi

Bianca Cappello

Bicci di Lorenzo

Bonaventura Berlinghieri

Buonamico Buffalmacco

Byzantine art



Dietisalvi di Speme

Domenico Beccafumi

Domenico di Bartolo

Domenico di Michelino

Domenico veneziano


Duccio di Buoninsegna

Eleonora da Toledo

Federico Zuccari

Filippino Lippi

Filippo Lippi

Fra Angelico

Fra Carnevale

Francesco di Giorgio Martini

Francesco Pesellino

Francesco Rosselli

Francia Bigio

Gentile da Fabriano


Domenico Ghirlandaio


Giorgio Vasari

Giotto di bondone

Giovanni da Modena

Giovanni da San Giovanni

Giovanni di Francesco

Giovanni di Paolo

Giovanni Toscani

Girolamo di Benvenuto

Guidoccio Cozzarelli

Guido da Siena

Il Sodoma

Jacopo del Sellaio

Jacopo Pontormo

Lippo Memmi

Lippo Vanni

Lorenzo Ghiberti

Lorenzo Monaco

Lo Scheggia

Lo Spagna

Luca Signorelli


masolino da panicale

master of monteoliveto

master of sain tfrancis

master of the osservanza

matteo di giovanni

memmo di filippuccio

neroccio di bartolomeo

niccolo di segna

paolo di giovanni fei

paolo ucello


piero della francesca

piero del pollaiolo

piero di cosimo

pietro aldi

pietro lorenzetti



sandro botticelli

sano di pietro


simone martini

spinello aretino

taddeo di bartolo

taddeo gaddi

ugolino di nerio



Sandro Botticelli, The Trials and Calling of Moses, 1481-82, fresco, 348,5 x 558 cm, Cappella Sistina, Vatican

Travel guide for Tuscany
Sandro Botticelli

Sandro Botticelli, (1445-1510) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance.

Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was characterized by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli. His posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting. Among his best known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera.

Details of Botticelli's life are sparse, but we know that he became an apprentice when he was about fourteen years old, which would indicate that he received a fuller education than did other Renaissance artists. He was born in the city of Florence. Vasari reported that he was initially trained as a goldsmith by his brother Antonio.[2] Probably by 1462 he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi;[3] many of his early works have been attributed to the elder master, and attributions continue to be uncertain. Influenced also by the monumentality of Masaccio's painting, it was from Lippi that Botticelli learned a more intimate and detailed manner. As recently discovered, during this time, Botticelli could have traveled to Hungary, participating in the creation of a fresco in Esztergom, ordered in the workshop of Fra Filippo Lippi by Vitéz János, then archbishop of Hungary.

By 1470 Botticelli had his own workshop. Even at this early date his work was characterized by a conception of the figure as if seen in low relief, drawn with clear contours, and minimizing strong contrasts of light and shadow which would indicate fully modeled forms.


Probable self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi, Uffizi, Florence

The masterworks Primavera (c. 1482) and The Birth of Venus (c. 1485) were both seen by Vasari at the villa of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de' Medici at Castello in the mid-16th century, and until recently, it was assumed that both works were painted specifically for the villa. Recent scholarship suggests otherwise: the Primavera was painted for Lorenzo's townhouse in Florence, and The Birth of Venus was commissioned by someone else for a different site. By 1499, both had been installed at Castello.

In these works, the influence of Gothic realism is tempered by Botticelli's study of the antique. But if the painterly means may be understood, the subjects themselves remain fascinating for their ambiguity. The complex meanings of these paintings continue to receive widespread scholarly attention, mainly focusing on the poetry and philosophy of humanists who were the artist's contemporaries. The works do not illustrate particular texts; rather, each relies upon several texts for its significance. Of their beauty, characterized by Vasari as exemplifying "grace" and by John Ruskin as possessing linear rhythm, there can be no doubt.

The Adoration of the Magi for Santa Maria Novella (c. 1475-1476, now at the Uffizi) contains the portraits of Cosimo de' Medici ("the finest of all that are now extant for its life and vigour"),[5] his grandson Giuliano de' Medici, and Cosimo's son Giovanni. The quality of the scene was hailed by Vasari as one of Botticelli's pinnacles.

In 1481, Pope Sixtus IV summoned Botticelli and other prominent Florentine and Umbrian artists to fresco the walls of the Sistine Chapel. The iconological program was the supremacy of the Papacy. Sandro's contribution was moderately successful. He returned to Florence, and "being of a sophistical turn of mind, he there wrote a commentary on a portion of Dante and illustrated the Inferno which he printed, spending much time over it, and this abstention from work led to serious disorders in his living." Thus Vasari characterized the first printed Dante (1481) with Botticelli's decorations; he could not imagine that the new art of printing might occupy an artist.

In the mid-1480s Botticelli worked on a major fresco cycle with Perugino, Ghirlandaio, and Filippino Lippi, for Lorenzo the Magnificent's villa near Volterra; in addition he painted many frescoes in Florentine churches.

In 1491 Botticelli served on a committee to decide upon a facade for the Florence Duomo.

Influence of Savonarola



Sandro Botticelli , The Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli , The Birth of Venus

In later life, Botticelli was one of Savonarola's followers, though the full extent of Savonarola's influence is uncertain. The story that he burnt his own paintings on pagan themes in the notorious "Bonfire of the Vanities" is not told by Vasari, who nevertheless asserts that of the sect of Savonarola "he was so ardent a partisan that he was thereby induced to desert his painting, and, having no income to live on, fell into very great distress. For this reason, persisting in his attachement to that party, and becoming a Piagnone[7] he abandoned his work.". Botticelli biographer Ernst Steinman searched for the artist's psychological development through his Madonnas. In the "deepening of insight and expression in the rendering of Mary's physiognomy", Steinman discerns proof of Savonarola's influence over Botticelli. This means that the biographer needed to alter the dates of a number of Madonnas to substantiate his theory; specifically, they are dated ten years later than before. Steinman disagrees with Vasari's assertion that Botticelli produced nothing after coming under the influence of Girolamo Savonarola. Steinman believes the spiritual and emotional Virgins rendered by Sandro follow directly from the teachings of the Dominican monk.

Death and Posthumous eclipse

Botticelli was already little employed in 1502. In 1504 he was a member of the committee appointed to decide where Michelangelo's David would be placed. His later work, especially as seen in a series on the life of St. Zenobius, witnessed a diminution of scale, expressively distorted figures, and a non-naturalistic use of colour reminiscent of the work of Fra Angelico nearly a century earlier.

After his death his reputation was eclipsed longer and more thoroughly than that of any other major European artist. His paintings remained in the churches and villas[8] for which they had been created, his frescoes in the Sistine Chapel upstaged by Michelangelo's. British collector and art historian William Young Ottley however had brought Botticelli's The Mystical Nativity to London with him in 1799 after buying it in Italy. After Ottley's death its next purchaser allowed it to be exhibited in a major art exhibition held in Manchester in 1857, The Art Treasures Exhibition[9], where amongst many other art works it was viewed by more than a million people. The first nineteenth century art historian to have looked with satisfaction at Botticelli's Sistine frescoes was Alexis-François Rio. Through Rio, Anna Brownell Jameson and Charles Eastlake were alerted to Botticelli, but, while works by his hand began to appear in German collections, both the Nazarene movement and the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood ignored him. Walter Pater created a literary picture of Botticelli, who was then taken up by the Aesthetic movement. The first monograph on the artist was published in 1893; then, between 1900 and 1920 more books were written on Botticelli than any other painter.

Private life

Botticelli never wed, and expressed a strong aversion to the idea of marriage, a prospect he claimed gave him nightmares.

The popular view is that he suffered from unrequited love for Simonetta Vespucci, a married noblewoman. According to legend, she had served as the model for The Birth of Venus and recurs throughout his paintings, despite the fact that she had died years earlier, in 1476. Botticelli asked that when he die he be buried at her feet in the Church of Ognissanti in Florence. His wish was carried out when he died some 34 years later, in 1510.

Some modern historians have also examined other aspects of his sexuality. In 1938, Jacques Mesnil discovered a summary of a charge in the Florentine Archives for November 16, 1502 which read simply, "Botticelli keeps a boy"; under an accusation of [sodomy]. The painter would then have been fifty-eight; the charges were eventually dropped. Mesnil dismissed it as a customary slander by which partisans and adversaries of Savonarola abused each other. Opinion remains divided on whether this is evidence of homosexuality.[12] Many have firmly backed Mesnil,[13] but others have cautioned against hasty dismissal of the charge.[14] Yet while speculating on the subject of his paintings, Mesnil nevertheless concluded "woman was not the only object of his love".

The Birth of Venus

Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus (detail), c. 1486, tempera on canvas, Uffizi, Florence

A close-up of the Venus figure in Botticelli's legendary The Birth of Venus. Botticelli's model for his most famous art work was the beautiful Simonetta Vespucci. Once nominated "The Queen of Beauty" at a Florentine jousting tournament, it was Simonetta's face that Botticelli painted on an art banner. The art banner was carried into battle by the tournament winner, Giuliano de' Medici, a man soon to become her lover. Inscribed beneath her image, Botticelli described her as "the unparalleled one."

Only shortly after her arrival in Florence, Simonetta became known as "La Bella Simonetta," attracting the attention of poets and artists like Botticelli. They vied to honor her with their artistic creations. At the age of fifteen, Simonetta married a cousin of Amerigo Vespucci, the famous Italian explorer for whom America was named. It was through the Vespucci family connection that Simonetta first met Botticelli and the Medici family, prominent political figures and art patrons.
Simonetta, "the unparalleled one," personified ideal beauty

The face of Simonetta personified the Italian Renaissance concept of ideal beauty. This was important to artists like Botticelli, who thought that outward beauty reflected inner beauty or virtue (spiritual beauty). Simonetta died in 1476 at the age of twenty-two, but Botticelli continued to feature her image in his art for the rest of his life. All of Botticelli's female art images were portraits of Simonetta. Upon his death three decades later, Botticelli requested to be buried at Simonetta's feet.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli, The Birth of Venus

Art in Tuscany | Sando Botticelli and La Bella Simonetta



Spring by Botticelli. The central figure is presumed to be a portrait of La Bella Simonetta.



Botticelli painted Primavera for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici (1463–1503), one of Lorenzo the Magnificent’s cousins. Venus stands just to the right of center with her son Cupid hovering above her head. Botticelli drew attention to Venus by opening the landscape behind her to reveal a portion of sky that forms a kind of halo around the goddess of love’s head. To her right, seemingly the target of Cupid’s arrow, are the dancing Three Graces, based closely on ancient prototypes but clothed,albeit in thin, transparent garments. At the right, the blue ice-cold Zephyrus, the west wind, is about to carry off and marry the nymph Chloris, whom he transforms into Flora, goddess of spring, appropriately shown wearing a rich floral gown. At the far left, the enigmatic figure of Mercury turns away from all the others and reaches up with his distinctive staff, the caduceus, perhaps to dispel storm clouds. The sensuality of the representation, the appearance of Venus in springtime, and the abduction and marriage of Chloris all suggest the occasion for the painting was young Lorenzo’s wedding in May 1482. But the painting also sums up the Neo-Platonists’ view that earthly love is compatible with Christian theology. In their reinterpretation of classical mythology, Venus as the source of love provokes desire through Cupid. Desire can lead either to lust and violence (Zephyr) or, through reason and faith (Mercury), to the love of God. Primavera, read from right to left, served to urge the newlyweds to seek God through love.[Source: The Renaissance in Quattrocento Italy. Chapter 21, p.559]  

Sandro Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1475-1476, tempera on panel, Uffizi, Florence

At the height of his fame, the Florentine painter and draughtsman Sandro Botticelli was one of the most esteemed artists in Italy.
In the Uffizi there is a painting by Sandro Botticelli which is both a portrait of the Medici family and a self-portrait of the artist. It is the celebrated Adoration of tlre Magi, painted around the year 1475 for the chapel patronized by the Lama (or Lami) family in Santa Maria Novella. It is the picture that, according to Vasari, made the young Sandro famous in Florence and Italy and opened the way to Rome.
The painting is based on a subtle web of symbolic references. The Lami Chapel was dedicated to the Epiphany because the client's name, Gaspare, was the same as the one traditionally attributed to one of the three Magi. This explains the choice of the iconographic subject. The Adoration of the Magi theme was popular in the Renaissance Florence.
In the scene are present numerous characters among which are several members of the Medici family: Cosimo de' Medici (the Magus kneeling in front of the Virgin, described by Vasari as "the finest of all that are now extant for its life and vigour"), his sons Piero (the second Magus kneeling in the centre with the red mantle) and Giovanni (the third Magus), and his grandsons Giuliano and Lorenzo.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli | Adoration of the Magi, 1475-1476



Sandro Botticelli, 1446 - 1510, The Adoration of the Magi, c. 1478/1482, tempera and oil on panel,
Andrew W. Mellon Collection, National Gallery of Art, Washington

Frescoes in the Sistine Chapel

Botticelli painted three major frescos in the Sistine Chapel: The Temptation of Moses and The Punishment of Korah were on the South wall and the Temptation of Christ on the North wall. He also painted at least seven of the papal portraits that were in the window zone of the chapel. As far as the content of the pictures, Botticelli was not one of the decision makers. He was told what subjects to portray and then to portray their stories. Just being able to be part of the project in the Sistine Chapel was a great honor for any artist during that time period.

The Temptation of Christ


In a series of sequential scenes, we can see the moments of the temptation of Christ, amongst which, the culminating moment: Atop the Temple, Satan shows Christ the world and tells him that "All this is yours". Along the way, other moments of this temptation of Christ are presented in groups which end when Satan, finally defeated, opts to throw himself from the top of the rocks rather than to continue to witness Christ's ardor. Botticelli recounts the Temptations of Christ in a somewhat medieval manner, juxtaposing several stories in a single scene, at the risk of making it denser, which it does. One detail in the Adoration of the Eucharist, the big central scene is admirable - the bearer of offerings, who recalls one of the Graces at the Lemmi Villa and who is a forebear of the Graces of Spring.

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The Trials of Moses


This fresco is just as ponderous and complex. The burning bush, representing Moses' encounter with God, is there, along with Jethro's daughters, the preparations for the ascent of Mount Sinai with Moses baring his feet, Moses striking an Egyptian, as he does not yet know that he is not Egyptian. All these episodes of Moses' history converge on Jethro's well, the central confluence, with the two figures of Jethro's daughters , all in white; once again, we find this lily-white translucency, in which Botticelli's continuing orientation toward an infinitely elegant and delicate art can be seen.

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The Punishment of Korah, Dathan and Abiram


This is certainly the best of the frescoes. Aaron, the priest, had been challenged by three rebels who no longer respected his authority and proposed that a double sacrifice be performed: the rebels would make their offering and Aaron his, and they would then see which was accepted by God. Of course, the smoke from Aaron's pyre rose straight to heaven, while the rebels' sacrifice flame set them on fire. A superb story, very vividly told, this is one of the first times that Botticelli set out to tell a perfectly dynamic story which even mimics persons. The whole painting is brought together by a superb landscape, the most successful of all; this landscape is further unified by a nearly exact copy of the Arch of Constantine which Botticelli introduced into this scene, a nearly completely archeological vision of this Roman monument against a background of a lake and mountains, which gives the whole painting exceptional vigor and power.

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Late paintings (from 1490)

The political and religious crisis of the 1490s clearly left its mark on Botticelli's late work. He created fewer monumental works and devoted himself principally to producing devotional pictures and small altars. His themes was now almost exclusively religious ones. In his style there was a decisive change to a hitherto unknown degree of soberness and strictness. In his compositions, he increasingly dispensed with lively decorations, concentrating instead on expressive structuring of the figures. It would be oversimplifying to ascribe this evident change in Botticelli's later works exclusively to the influence of Savonarola, as Vasari does. If he is to be believed, Botticelli was a keen follower of Savonarola, and neglected his work to such an extent that he became impoverished. But quite the opposite must have been the case, he was reasonably well off, and he continued to work until after 1500, as is proven by existing works and documents. However, the artist did not remain unaffected by the events of his time. The change in Botticelli's style appears to be an indicator of the spirit of the time shortly before the end of the century, shaped as it was by political unrest and a belief that the last days were at hand.[3]
Botticelli's theme for the Calumny of Apelles was drawn from a famous painting by the Greek artist Apelles, described in classical sources. It was a well-known work in the 15th century. Lucian's description of this lost work by the classical artist had been widely translated. Apelles produced his painting because he was unjustly slandered by a jealous artistic rival, Antiphilos, who accused him in front of the gullible king of Egypt, Ptolemy, of being an accomplice in a conspiracy. After Apelles had been proven to be innocent, he dealt with his rage and desire for revenge by painting this picture.

In his painting, Botticelli kept the scenic structure of the composition of the figures to Lucian's description, and created a lavishly decorated architectural backdrop for them.

An innocent man is dragged before the kings throne by the personifications of Calumny, Malice, Fraud and Envy. They are followed to one side by Remorse as an old woman, turning to face the naked Truth, who is pointing towards heaven. The nakedness of Truth places her in a relationship with the innocent youth, whose folded hands are also an appeal to a higher power.


Calumny of Apelles, 1494-95, Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence


Mystic Nativity

Sandro Botticelli, Mystical Nativity(detail), about 1501, Tempera on canvas, 108.6 x 74.9 cm, London, National Gallery

The 'Mystic Nativity' shows angels and men celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. The Virgin Mary kneels in adoration before her infant son, watched by the ox and the ass at the manger. Mary's husband, Joseph, sleeps nearby. Shepherds and wise men have come to visit the new-born king. Angels in the heavens dance and sing hymns of praise. On earth they proclaim peace, joyfully embracing virtuous men while seven demons flee defeated to the underworld.

Botticelli's picture has long been called the 'Mystic Nativity' because of its mysterious symbolism. It combines Christ's birth as told in the New Testament with a vision of his Second Coming as promised in the Book of Revelation. The Second Coming - Christ's return to earth - would herald the end of the world and the reconciliation of devout Christians with God.

The picture was painted a millennium and a half after the birth of Christ, when religious and political upheavals prompted prophetic warnings about the end of the world.

'The Mystic Nativity' was probably painted as a private devotional work for a Florentine patron.

It has been suggested that the painting may be connected with the influence of Savonarola, whose influence appears in a number of late paintings by Botticelli, though the contents of the image may have been specified by the person commissioning it.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli's 'The Mystical Nativity'

Sandro Botticelli, Mystical Nativity, London, National Gallery

Botticelli often concerned himself during his lifetime with illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy. He executed the drawings from the cycle illustrated here over a relatively long period of time, from about 1480 to 1500. The identification of these illustrations with the Dante cycle which Botticelli is known to have done for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco, his great patron from the Medici family, seems not improbable.
For some reason unknown to us, the drawings were never completed. Only four of the surviving 93 sheets - nine having been lost in the course of time - are coloured, although this was presumably the original intention for all of them. The drawings are now in the collections of the Staatliche Museen in Berlin and the Vatican Library.

Dante wrote over 14.000 verses describing his visionary journey through the kingdoms of Hell (Inferno), Purgatory (Purgatorio) and Paradise (Paradiso). The epic is divided into 100 cantos: 34 for Hell and 33 each for Purgatory and Paradise. Dante is at first guided on his journey by the classical poet Virgil, but in Paradise he is led by his muse, Beatrice. During his journey Dante meets a large number of nameless people, and also famous personalities from the past and his own age. Every one of them has received the place he deserves as a result of the offences or merits of his life.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli | Illustrations for Dante's Divinia Comedia


Sandro Botticelli, Inferno, (detail), Staatliche Museen, Berlin

We see Dante with Virgil, his guide, in the eighth circle. Dante is shown in red and Virgil in blue.

La historia de Nastagio degli Onesti

Sandro Botticelli and Bartolomeo di Giovanni, La historia de Nastagio degli Onesti (third episode, detail), 1483, Madrid, Museo Nacional del Prado

In the 1480s Botticelli gained commissions from the families in high society. Increasingly they chose classical themes for the luxurious decoration of their town houses, but they also included some from contemporary literature. In order to be able to carry out his multiple commissions, Botticelli had to work together with other painters as well as members of his own workshop. The four panels conveying the Story of Nastagio degl Onesti, the eighth novel of the fifth day of Boccaccio's Decameron, were produced with the aid of Bartolomeo di Giovanni.
The Story of Nastagio degl Onesti is the story of Nastagio, a young man from Ravenna who was rejected by the daughter of Paolo Traversari and abandoned the city to settle on its outskirts. Nastagio degli Onesti, whose beloved initially refused to marry him, finally weds her after all. First of all, however, he must remind her of the eternal agony in hell of another merciless woman, one who had also refused marriage, her rejected lover had to pursue her until he had caught up with her, killed her, torn out her heart and intestines and fed them to his dogs.

In the second Panel, Nastagio runs away in fright after witnessing the scene, while the persecution begins again in the background. After his initial sense of repulsion, Nastagio decides to take advantage of the story and invites his beloved to come there for a meal with her family.

The third panel shows the guests' reaction to the events, and how Nastagio's beloved uses a maid to indicate that she is willing to marry him. The fourth panel depicts the wedding banquet.

The fourth painting naturally represents the woman saying sweetly: "In that case, I'll marry you", and we are present for the marriage of Dona Lucrezia Bini and Ugolino degli Onesti. A considerable contribution to the execution of this panel by Jacopo del Sellaio is assumed.
The fourth panel belongs to a private collection, the three others are kept in Madrid, Prado.

The paintings were commissioned in 1483 by Antonio Pucci for the marriage of his son, Giannozzo, with Lucrezia Bini. The coats of arms of both families flank those of the Medici on the third panel. Specialists see Botticelli's hand in the overall design and in certain figures. They also detect the participation of his assistants, Bartolomeo di Giovanni and Jacopo del Sellaio.

Art in Tuscany | Sandro Botticelli, The Story of Nastagio degl Onesti

Storia di Virginia Romana

Sandro Botticelli, Storia di Virginia Romana, Bergamo, Accademia Carrara

Though cassoni were made in many countries, the finest come from Italy. Cassone is the Italian term for chest or coffer, usually a bridal or dower chest, highly ornate and given prominence in the home. Chest, usually of wood, intended to contain a bride's dowry or to be given as a wedding present. It was the most elaborately decorated piece of furniture in Renaissance Italy. In the 15th century, wealthy Florentine families employed artists such as Sandro Botticelli and Paolo Uccello to decorate cassoni with paintings. They were often made in pairs, bearing the respective coats of arms of the bride and groom.
The cassone was usually decorated with mythological or historical episodes. It became one of the first means of bold secular expression in Renaissance art.
Major artists such as Paolo Uccello and Sandro Botticelli painted cassone panels, and prominent sculptors were also employed to carve elaborate chests.[4]

Art in Tuscany | Italian Renaissance Cassoni paintings

A small round stone in the Franciscan Church of Ognissanti marks the resting-place of Sandro Boticelli. In the centre of the tombstone one can see the Filipepi family coat of arms, surrounded by the inscription in Latin containing the year of the artist's death - 1510. His tombstone can be found in the floor of the Cappella San Pietro d’ Alcantara in the south transept of the Chiesa Ognissanti in Florence. There is Botticelli's fresco of Saint Augustine in his Study (1480) in the same church.  

[1] Guasparre del Lama was a parvenu from the humblest background with a dubious past - he had been convicted of the embezzlement of public funds in 1447. He had been working since the 1450s as a broker and money-changer, something which brought him considerable wealth. In order that he might also obtain the high social standing which he lacked, he enrolled in the most prestigious brotherhoods and endowed a chapel in Santa Maria Novella, which he decorated with Botticelli's altar-piece. Del Lama's career did not last long, for he soon slipped back into his dishonest business practices.
Del Lama may be seen among the crowd of people on the right-hand side of the picture, an elderly man with white hair and a light blue robe looking at the observer and pointing in the latter's direction with his right hand. The most famous members of the Medici family are portrayed together with del Lama; controversy rages as to their precise identification, although there is no doubt that the eldest king, kneeling before the Virgin and the Christ Child, is a representation of Cosimo the Elder, founder in the 1430s of what would be dynastic rule by the Medici family over Florence for many years to come. Other members: Cosimo's son Piero, called the Gouty, as the kneeling king with red mantle in the centre, Lorenzo the Magnificent as the young man at his right, in profile, with a black and red mantle.

[2] Among many interpretations start with: Aby Warburg, The Renewal of Pagan Antiquity, trans. David Britt, Los Angeles, 1999, 405–431; Ernst H. Gombrich, "Botticelli's Mythologies: A Study in the Neoplatonic Symbolism of his circle," Journal of the Warburg and Courtauld Institutes, 8 (1945) 7–60; Ronald Lightbown, Botticelli: Life and Work, New York, 1989, 152–163; Frank Zollner, Botticelli: Images of Love and Spring, Munich, 1998, 82–91.

[3] In 1482, probably after his return from Rome, he received a commission with paint in the Sala dell’ Udienza at Florence, together with Domenico Ghirlandaio. Many of the works already mentioned probably fall within the next ten years of Botticelli’s manhood. The Boccaccio series belongs to 1487. In 1491 upon some mosaic decorations in the cathedral of Florence which have unhappily perished. Soon after this time there came into his life a new influences which greatly changed it. It is well known how the genius of the Dominican Savonarola swept like a storm over the affairs of Italy, and what a revolution, after the passage of the French king through Florence, he brought about in the temper and policy of the republic, -- driving out the merchant family who had been its untitled masters for half a century, establishing in place of their rule a new theocracy of which he was himself the oracle and minister, turning the hearts of old and young away from the world and from their lusts. Many of the first artists of the became his most ardent followers, and among them Botticelli.
What the actual effect of his conversion was upon him we have scantly means of judging, but it needs must have put an end to his painting of those old mythologies, over which in earlier days his imagination had been used to throw so singular a charm. Vasari, a devoted servant of the later Medici, and therefore a traducer of the greatest enemy that house had ever had, speaks of Savonarola’s influence upon Botticelli as altogether disastrous, saving that he was "obstinate upon that side," "a partisan of the sect of Savonarola in such a fashion that, abandoning painting and having no income to live upon, he fell into the utmost disorder;" and again how "playing the Piagnone (the name given to the followers of Savonarola), he fell out of the way of painting, and thereby at last found himself old and poor in such a sort that if Lorenzo Medici, as long as he lived, had not supported him, and afterwards his friends and many worthy men who felt an affection for his virtues, he would, we may say, have died of hunger."

[4] In Renaissance Italy, the joining of wealthy families through marriage was celebrated with elaborate processions that accompanied a bride to the home of her new husband. Richly painted marriage chests, called cassoni in Italian, were made in pairs and paraded through the streets to celebrate weddings. Such marriage processions displayed a family's power also echoed the military triumphs of ancient Rome. These parades were sometimes criticized for being decadent and immodest and were banned in Florence in the 1460s, although painted wedding chests continued to recall these earlier processions. Cassoni paintings were intended to delight as well as to inform. They featured allegories and historical subjects, themes appropriate to the ideals of marriage. The paintings dramatized conflicts between love and duty and often conveyed visions of triumphant harmony. The stories shown are often entertaining and sometimes even scandalous, although they are usually resolved with honor. The clever and colorful designs of cassoni also showcased the ingenuity of the artists who made them, and the sophistication of families that commissioned them.
[5] Lorenzo de Medici ruled Florence from 1469 until his death in 1492. His mistress was Simonetta Vespucci , a wife of Marco Vespucci whom she married at the age of 15. Marco Vespucci was a cousin of Amerigo Vespucci (after whom, in 1507, Waldseemüller named the new continent "America"). Simonetta's portrait on the left (where she modeled Cleopatra) and the image below (detail from the Death of Procris) are by Piero di Cosimo . Simonetta (who died at the age of 22 from pulmonary tuberculosis) inspired several Botticelli's paintings, among them the Birth of Venus.
In 1494 France invaded Florence, the ruling Medici were overthrown, and Girolamo Savonarola (1452 - 1498)emerged as the ruling sacerdot of the Christian Republic of Florence. Savonarola, a Dominican friar, was preaching about the impending Apocalypse (the millennium of 1500) presaging the Last Days of the world and maintained that the ongoing epidemic of syphilis was God's punishments for homosexuality. Aside of the the death penalty for homosexuality, Savonarola also sponsored many other draconic laws.
In 1497, Savonarola sponsored the Bonfire of the Vanities. Many books of the authors from the time of the Roman Empire, together with the objects considered to be connected with moral laxity, including paintings by Sandro Botticelli and Michelangelo Buonarroti have been thrown to the flames. Citizens of Florence became outraged by ongoing executions instigated by religious fanatics endowed with secular power and on April 8, 1498 attacked the Convent of San Marco, the seat of Savonarola government. Savonarola surrendered, was sentenced to death, hanged in chains from a cross and a fire was lit beneath him. He was executed in the same manner as many others during his reign. Niccolo Machiavelli witnessed and later wrote about Savonarola execution.
Subsequently, Medici regained control of Florence.

In 1504 Botticelli was accused of homosexuality, a charge which only a few years ago was life-threatening, however the charges were dropped. Botticelli continued to paint for the rest of his life which ended on May 17, 1510. The great, unfulfilled love of Botticelli was Simonetta Vespucci and he asked to be buried next to her. They both rest in the church of Ognissanti, Florence.


Profile portrait of Dante, by Sandro Botticelli

Wikimedia Commons | Gallery Sandro Botticelli

Hein-Thomas Altcappenberg , Sandro Botticelli: The Drawings for Dante's Divine Comedy, Royal Academy Books, 2000

Art in Tuscany | Girolamo Savonarola


Holiday accomodation in Tuscany | Podere Santa Pia | Artist and writer's residency


Podere Santa Pia
Sunsets in Tuscany


Siena, Palazzo Publico
Siena, Duomo
Val d'Orcia

Asciano, Crete Senesi
Sunsets in Tuscany


Podere Santa Pia is located in the heart of the Valle d'Ombrone, and one can easily reach some of the most beautiful attractions of Tuscany, such as Montalcino, Pienza, Montepulciano and San Quirico d'Orcia, famous for their artistic heritage.
Discover Val d'Orcia with its wonderful landscape and its beautiful towns. There are several walk routes to be followed, to admire the beautiful landscape that was added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sitesin 2004. The area is one of Tuscany's most famous one, both for the famous wine brands, both for the untouched views, either for its proximity to famous Tuscan cities such as Montalcino, Montepulciano, Monticchiello, Pienza and San Quirico d'Orcia.
San Quirico d'Orcia is known for being home to Tuscany's most famous group of cypress trees.
The cypress trees are located next to the Cassia road which connects San Quirico d'Orcia to Montalcino, Buonconvento and Siena.

The surroundings of Podere Santa Pia, cipresses between Montalcino and Pienza



This page uses material from the Wikipedia article Sandro Botticelli, published under the GNU Free Documentation License.