Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Sandro Botticelli (Italian painter)

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, well known as Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter and draughtsman of the early Renaissance. During his youth, his father was a tanner, and because of his deep passion for painting, he introduced him to Filippo Lippi, an admired Florentine painter who later became Botticelli’s mentor (Lightbown, 2014). During Botticelli’s lifetime, humanist admired him for contributing in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome which led to wealthy families of Florence supporting his work. “The theological themes of the [Sistine Chapel’s] frescoes were chosen to illustrate papal supremacy over the church; Botticelli’s are remarkable for their brilliant fusion of sequences of symbolic episodes into unitary compositions.” (Lightbown, 2014). 

Other than Botticelli’s Primavera painting, also known as Allegory of Spring of the Primavera, one of his other most notable work is the Birth of Venus. This famous painting was created between 1484–1486 and is considered the most important work of the Renaissance (Puchko, N.D.). In the 1480s, artists and intellectuals offer gathered together in Florence in effort challenge the past by creating new ways of thinking with approaching the world (Wilde, 2013). Lorenzo de Medici, also known as Lorenzo the Great was an Italian statesman and was the most powerful patrons of the Renaissance era. Lorenzo organized humanists, philosophers, and artists to form groups of intellects interested in literature. Together under the influence Lorenzo and other leaders, they interpreted works and generated ideas that soon inspired works of art and literature (Birth of Venus, N.D.).

Botticelli created this piece of work for the House of Medici, an Italian banking family. It is important to take note that this is a tempera painting on canvas. “During this time, wood panels were popular surfaces for painting, and they would remain popular through the end of the sixteenth century. Canvas, however, was starting to gain acceptance by painters. It worked well in humid regions, such as Venice, because wooden panels tended to warp in such climates.” (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, N.D.). Canvas at the time was more affordable than wood, and it was more suitable for paintings to be displayed at non-official sites like Countryside villas (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, N.D.).

Botticelli’s Birth of Venus is considered the first large-scale canvas created in Renaissance Florence. This fresco painting today remains solid and flexible with a few cracks. Also, Botticelli utilized techniques uncommon at the time. He developed tempera pigments and added a layer of pure egg white which was uncommon among painters at the time. “Venus is illustrated as a beautiful and chaste goddess and symbol of the coming spring. Her depiction as a nude is significant in itself, given that during this time in Renaissance history almost all artwork was of a Christian theme, and nude women were hardly ever portrayed.” (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, N.D.). The pose of Botticelli's Venus is similar to Venus de Medici, a life-size marble sculpture portrays the Greek goddess of love Aphrodite which is a classical gem of the Medici collection.

House of Medici of Florence commissioned Botticelli to paint the Birth of Venus. Through commerce and banking, the Medici family, also known as the House of Medici, successfully become powerful family in Florence in the 13th century. In the early 1430s, the family’s support of artwork and literature created Florence helped them rise to power during the start of the Renaissance era (The Medici Family, 2009). This family was also well respected because they developed four popes: Leo X, Clement VII, Pius IV and Leon XI. 

The theme of this painting was set up by Lorenzo de Medici inspired by the writings of the Greek poet, Homer. “This filtered through to [Sandro Botticelli] and he scrupulously followed the text in order to design the artwork.” (Birth of Venus, N.D.). According to ancient literature, after Venus was born, she rode on a seashell to an island called Cythera. The painting displays Venus in the center emerging from the sea as a grown woman. On the left of this painting, it shows Zephyrus carrying Chloris, a mythological spirit, while guides Venus by blowing the wind behind her (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, N.D.). Venus's hair is long and golden which gently flows down her left shoulder. 

A lot of movement and various shapes are shown in many aspects of Botticelli's Birth of Venus. In the background, the leaves of the orange trees, Venus’ long golden hair, the roses floating behind her, and the waves in the sea are moved by the breeze. “The proportions show their greatest exaggeration, yet the long neck and torrent of hair help to create the mystifying figure.” (Botticelli’s Birth of Venus, N.D.). Most of the figures in this painting display gentle facial expressions as well.
In Roman mythology, Venus is the goddess that embodies beauty, victory, love, sex, and fertility. Also, Venus is the Roman counterpart to the Greek goddess Aphrodite. “According to Hesiod's Theogony, Aphrodite was born of the foam from the sea after Saturn castrated his father Uranus and his blood fell to the sea. This latter explanation appears to be more a popular theory due to the countless artworks depicting Venus rising from the sea in a clam.” (Garcia, 2013). Venus is offer connect with growing fields and gardens. Along with The Birth of Venus painting, the goddess Venus represented in important art pieces including Venus de Milo, ancient Greek statue.
Today Botticelli’s Birth of Venus painting is displayed at the Uffizi Gallery, the world's top art museums located in Florence, Italy. The Uffizi Gallery has historical work from notable Italian artists: Botticelli, Giotto, Michelangelo, and Leonardo da Vinci among others. It is the largest collection of great work between the 12th and 17th centuries. 
Bayne, Jen. "Artwork Of The Week: Sandro Botticelli's 'Birth Of Venus'." The Huffington Post. The Huffington Post, 14 May 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

"Birth of Venus." Artble. N.p., 20 Jan. 2016. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
"Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli at Uffizi Gallery in Florence." Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli at Uffizi Gallery in Florence. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
"Botticelli's Birth of Venus." N.p., 06 Feb. 2015. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Jones, Jonathan. "Botticelli's Birth of Venus Breathes New Life into an Ancient Religion." Jonathan Jones on Art. Guardian News and Media, 28 Mar. 2012. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Lightbown, Ronald W. "Sandro Botticelli." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 30 Sept. 2014. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
"The Medici Family." A&E Television Networks, 2009. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
Robert, Wilde European History. "Renaissance Humanism." Education. N.p., 08 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.
"Venus." Ancient History Encyclopedia. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Feb. 2017.

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