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Birth of Venus

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Sandro Botticello’s The Birth of Venus is the Florentine painter’s most famous work. Completed in about 1480, the painting now hangs in the Ufizzi in Florence. This tempura on canvas painting is large in size at 5’8” X 9’1” (Janson and Janson 443) and reflects the artistic and philosophical trends of its day. Painted on the dividing line of the middle ages with the Italian Renaissance, the painting’s subject and style are influenced by a developing and transitioning aesthetic.

Botticelli or Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi was born to an upper middle class family of four sons in the Ognissanti parish in 1445 (“Botticelli”). There are several stories that exist about why the family’s name may have become Botticelli. Regardless, it is known that Sandro Botticello was raised by an older brother in a family of successful people (“Botticelli”). Botticello soon found success as a painter under the tutelage of Fra Filippo Lippi (wga). During his time with Lippi and in the years that followed working in his own studio, Botticello developed a style which “revived certain elements of the Gothic style – a delicate sentiment, sometimes bordering on sentimentality, a feminine grace, and an emphasis on the ornamental and evocative capabilities of line” (wga).

In his art, Botticelli was truly a Florentine of his time as he spent his whole life there minus one year in Rome where he worked on the Sistine Chapel (“Botticelli”). Furthermore, the subject matter of his art was influenced by the social and philosophical atmosphere established in Florence by the famous Medici family. Botticelli benefited by a close relationship with that family at the height of their influence on the social and political atmosphere of Florence (Janson and Jans...

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...ce. However, in the 1490s the Medici family fell from favor in Florence. A monk by the name of Girolamo Savonarola and his message of austerity became very popular. The monk spoke against the excesses of Florentine life and the vices that he saw attached to it. (“Botticelli”). It is unclear whether or not Botticelli agreed with the teachings of Savonarola; however, his later works focus on more Christian subjects with traditional themes (Janson and Janson 444).

Works Cited

“Botticelli: Biography.” Myrrhine. 6 April 2006.

http://www.myrrhine.net/botticelli/biography.html

“Botticelli, Sandro.” Web Gallery of Art. 6 April 2006.

http://www.wga.hu/bio/b/botticel/biography.html

Gombrich, E.H. The Story of Art. New York: Oxford University Press, 1966.

Janson, H.W. and Anthony F. Janson. History of Art (5th Edition). New Jersey:

Prentice Hall, 1997.
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