Wednesday, March 16, 2011

40 Days of Artists: Botticelli

When you think of paintings in the Sistine Chapel, who immediately comes to mind? Probably not Botticelli. But what is interesting is that he had frescos in the Sistine Chapel well before Michelangelo did. Almost 30 years before Michelangelo did, in fact.
Sandro Botticelli was born in 1445 and died in 1510 - two years before Michelangelo finished his work on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Frescos by Botticelli can be seen on the left wall of the Chapel as you enter.
Though his frescos in the Chapel did not have the impact that Michelangelo's had, Botticelli's greatest work was perhaps in his mythological, allegorical paintings such as the Primavera, Birth of Venus, and Mars and Venus. These paintings were done in the 1470s and 80s, and have a unique ambiguity in their theme. Particularly with Primavera and Birth of Venus, one might venture to guess that they have a Christian religous theme associated with them. Especially given the central figures of the paintings, which appear as Madonna or Eve-like in their attitude. Botticelli's Venus, though a nude figure, still seems to portray a certain modesty and innocence in her stance.
This isn't particularly surprising, as Botticelli seemed to shift into strictly Christian religious-based motifs in his later work. He always seemed to have this theme in his mind, especially since there was a large demand for work that had a religious theme. Some of his greatest religious works include the Bardi Altarpiece, and his beautifully colorful Cestello Annunciation, which seems to mimic Fra Angelico's Annunciation altarpiece.

Sandro Botticelli
Birth of Venus
tempera on canvas
172.5 x 278.5 cm
c. 1485

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