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Did you know . . .?
. . . Paul Cezanne painted more than 200 still-life compositions in his lifetime?

. . . the first pigments used in painting were ground from earth, minerals and organic matter?

    Sandro Botticelli (1445 - 1510)
    Renaissance
Botticelli, a Florentine painter, was one of the most distinctive and popular of Renaissance artists. Apprenticed to Filippo Lippi, he developed a highly personalized style taking Filippo Lippi's linear approach to new heights of gracefulness. His work was elegantly executed with a rich language of sometimes highly personal and melancholy gesture.

By 1480 Botticelli had is own workshop with assistants. He spent almost all of his life working for the great families of Florence, especially the Medici family, for whom he painted portraits, most notably the Giuliano de' Medici. Adoration of the Magi was painted on commission (though not for the Medicis), and contains likenesses of the Medici family. His ideal of feminine beauty is shown in his mythological paintings for the Medici - most notably in his most famous painting, The Birth Of Venus (1482-84). The classical Goddess Venus is emerging from the water on a shell, held up by the Zephyrs, symbols of spiritual passions. The naked goddess isn't then a symbol of earthly but of spiritual love, like an ancient marble statue, slim and long-limbed, with harmonious features.

Botticelli's two paintings, A Young Woman Receiving Gifts from Venus and the Three Graces and A Young Man is Greeted by the Liberal Arts were in poor condition when acquired by the Louvre in 1882, with sections missing. It has been suggested that they may be marriage pictures, although the couples identity is still a mystery. These pieces display a more informal approach by the artist and convey a more affectionate atmosphere, with a quite enchanting and harmonious use of colour.

Botticelli's linear style was out of date by the time he died. His reputation was revived however, in the second half of the 19th century, when his female figures were a major influence on the Pre-Raphaelites and his flowing line was an inspiration for Art Nouveau.

REFERENCES
Gowing, L. (1987) Paintings in the Louvre. New York, U.S.A.: Stewart, Tabor & Chang.
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Laclotte, M. and Cuzin, J-P. (1993) The Louvre: European Paintings. London: Scala Publications Ltd.

Piper, D. (1981). The Dictionary of Painting & Sculpture, Art & Artists, Painters & Sculptors, Terms & Techniques. London: Mitchell Beazley Publishers.

Roettgen, S (1996) Italian Frescoes: The Early Renaissance (1400 - 1470). New York, U.S.A.: Abbeyville Press.
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