Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap
Sandro Botticelli, real name Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, was one of the greatest painters of the Florentine Renaissance. His work, Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap, captures his highly personalized style. He is known for his execution and precise use of lines to portray objects realistically. The Portrait
of a Young Man in a Red Cap
will be the source of our discussion, but first a background of Sandro Botticelli
’s artistic relations is necessary.
Botticelli was born in Florence Italy (1445-1510) and worked as an apprentice to a goldsmith early in his career. He then served as an apprentice to the painter Fra Fillippo Lippi. After working with Lippi, Botticelli developed his sense of line working with Andrea del Verrocchio. By 1470 he had his own workshop, where he spent most of his time producing pieces for the Medici family. It was through the Medici family that Botticelli was influenced by Christian Neoplatonism, which exemplified Christian views. From this point Botticelli developed such works as the Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap.
The painting, which is quite simple in nature, depicts nothing more than the bust of a teenage boy with a red hat on. The boy is uniquely outlined on each side with the right side of his body gently fading into a black backdrop and the left having a sharp and precise line separating him from the black. As the viewer may notice, the young man does not pose any facial gesture which may depict emotion. It is therefore almost impossible to know the feelings of Botticelli’s subject. Many feel that Botticelli was merely documenting the boy’s physical appearance without evoking feeling from his viewers. Botticelli also used much more detail on his face than he did on the clothing of the young man, which supports that it is a portrait. He uses tones of red from the sharp hat to the tones of his skin. A brown color is used to unify his hair, lips, and eyes. The boy’s wardrobe also includes a jacket typical of the time period. In a more in depth look at the portrait, one may notice that it shades from a rich red color at the top to a dark brown color at the bottom. The light source shines from the left side of the picture while it brightens the right side of the young man’s body. It is uncertain who the boy is, but art historians suggest that he is probably a family member of a donor. Through such work Botticelli has proven his devotion to the Italian renaissance.
By Stockstad's suggestions, Botticelli’s work is exemplary of renaissance style. First, wealthy families such as the Medicis funded most of his work, which was typical of works of the renaissance. Botticelli’s style was developed through apprenticeship. Being a Neoplatonist, Botticelli separated the spiritual world from the world of senses. In this case he portrayed a young man without giving him any emotions. In addition, Botticelli represents the style by trying to create a more realistic view of the subject, unlike his northern counterparts. His work provides a constant light source and has strict linear perspective, as described in the source of light coming from the left shining on the boys right and the sharp line outlining him on the left. The rich red color of the hat is also characteristic of the renaissance. However, the darker tones in the clothing and background tend to stray from the period.
In conclusion Sandro Botticelli was a fine artist of the Italian renaissance as can be seen in his work of a Portrait of a Young Man in a Red Cap.