Sandro Botticelli

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  • Topic: Florence, Sandro Botticelli, Lorenzo de' Medici
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  • Published : October 18, 2010
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Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi
aka Sandro Botticelli
March 1, 1445 - May 17, 1510

Alessandro Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance or Quattrocento. Sandro was born at Florence in 1445 in a house in the Via Nueva, Borg' Ognissanti. This was the home of his father, Mariano di Vanni dei Filipepi, a struggling tanner. Sandro, the youngest child, derived the name Botticelli by which he was commonly known, not, as related by Giorgio Vasari, from a goldsmith to whom he was apprenticed, but from his eldest brother Giovanni, a prosperous broker, who seems to have taken charge of the boy and who for some reason bore the nickname Botticello or Little Barrel. Botticelli was first apprenticed to a goldsmith at an early age of 13, then, following the boy's wishes, his doting father set him to Fra Filippo Lippi who was at work frescoing the Convent of the Carmine. Lippo Lippi's synthesis of the new control of three-dimensional forms, tender expressiveness in face and gesture, and decorative details inherited from the late Gothic style were the strongest influences on Botiicelli. During his apprentice years Sandro was no doubt employed with other pupils upon the great series of frescoes in the choir of the Pieve at Prato upon which his master was for long intermittently engaged. The later among these frescoes in many respects anticipate, by charm of sentiment, animation of movement and rhythmic flutter of draperies, some of the prevailing characteristics of Sandro's own style. One of Sandro's earliest extant pictures, the oblong "Adoration of the Magi" at the National Gallery, London, shows him almost entirely under the influence of his first master. Botticelli quickly became recognized as a gifted artist all by himself. By the time he was 25, he was able to open a workshop dedicated to his own work. In Sandro Botticelli’s workshop, he chose to have many apprentices to help him complete his work. Sandro taught them to set up and prepare his supplies so he could concentrate on painting. When Sandro thought one of his apprentices was ready, he had some of them paint for him under his close supervision. Using these practices, he was able to produce large amounts of commissioned work. He was influenced in his art by Fra Filippo Lippi and Antonio Pollaiuolo. The repeated contacts with the Medici family were undoubtedly useful for granting him political protection and creating conditions ideal for his production of several masterpieces. Botticelli’s style evolved into one that was very distinct. His portraits seemed to have a melancholy or sad characteristic to them. Sandro stressed line and detail using them to bring his characters alive – as if acting out a scene. He included in his style a flowing characteristic that would clearly identify work as his. Botticelli also included Neo-Platonism in his work. This meant that he would bring together in one painting ideas that belong to both Christianity and pagan ideas which may have included mythology. One theme that Botticelli used over and over again was the idea of a very sad young girl that was detached from what was going on around her. This theme appeared in many of his portraits throughout his career. Another theme Botticelli liked tackling were the roles male and females played in society. Sometimes Sandro would show traditional roles, but other times, he showed females as the dominant, most important figure. Left in Florence on Fra Filippo's departure to Spoleto, he can be traced gradually developing his individuality under various influences, among which that of the realistic school of the Pollaiuolo is for some time the strongest. From that school, he acquired knowledge of bodily structure and movement, and a searching and expressive precision of linear draughtsmanship, which he could never have learned from his first master, Filippo. The...
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