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Sandro Botticelli

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi

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Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter of the Florentine school, working during the Early Renaissance. Little is known about his early life and education, other than he was apprenticed around the age of fourteen, which was a young age for an art apprentice. His master was Fra Filippo Lippi, who was influenced by Masaccio’s paintings, and taught Botticelli a delicate and detailed style. By 1470, Botticelli left the workshop of Lippi to open his own studio, and further developing a style that would become uniquely his.

In 1481, Botticelli was summoned by the Pope to complete some frescoes at the Sistine Chapel, but his contribution was shadowed by the works of the feuding Raphael and Michelangelo. In later years, he also painted many frescoes for Florentine churches, working alongside Filippino Lippi, Perugino, and Ghirlandaio. Near the end of his life, Botticelli was under the influence of Savonarola, an Italian Dominican friar, who was known for his book burning and destruction of immoral art. It is thought that at one point Botticelli cooperated with Savonarola, willingly watching some of his paintings be fed to the flames. Vasari, an early biographer of Botticelli, noted that after witnessing the death of his paintings, Botticelli became severely distressed, as well as without income, and may have quit painting altogether (although this is unlikely).

Due to a strong aversion to marriage, Botticelli never married, saying that the sheer idea gave him nightmares. After Botticelli’s death, his reputation and body of work fell to the wayside, often upstaged by the work of Michelangelo, especially his work at the Sistine Chapel. After the introduction of his works into the mainland of Europe and Britain, his fame slowly rose, until he was one of the most written-about painters of the 15th century.

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Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi (c. 1445 – May 17, 1510), known as Sandro Botticelli (Italian: [ˈsandro bottiˈtʃɛlli]), was an Italian painter of the Early Renaissance. He belonged to the Florentine School under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, a movement that Giorgio Vasari would characterize less than a hundred years later in his Vita of Botticelli as a "golden age". Botticelli's posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then, his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting.

As well as the small number of mythological subjects which are his best known works today, he painted a wide range of religious subjects and also some portraits. He and his workshop were especially known for their Madonna and Childs, many in the round tondo shape. Botticelli's best-known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera, both in the Uffizi in Florence. He lived all his life in the same neighbourhood of Florence, with probably his only significant time elsewhere the months he spent painting in Pisa in 1474 and the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1481–82.

Only one of his paintings is dated, though others can be dated from other records with varying degrees of certainty, and the development of his style traced with confidence. He was an independent master for all the 1470s, growing in mastery and reputation, and the 1480s were his most successful decade, when all his large mythological paintings were done, and many of his best Madonnas. By the 1490s his style became more personal and to some extent mannered, and he could be seen as moving in a direction opposite to that of a new generation of painters, creating the High Renaissance style just as Botticelli returned in some ways to the Gothic.

He has been described as "an outsider in the mainstream of Italian painting", who had a limited interest in many of the developments most associated with Quattrocento painting, such as the realistic depiction of human anatomy, perspective, and landscape, and the use of direct borrowings from classical art. His training enabled him to represent all these aspects of painting, without contributing to their development.

Botticelli was born in the city of Florence in a house in the street still called Via Borgo Ognissanti. He was to live within a minute or two's walk of this all his life, and to be buried in the Ognissanti ("All Saints") parish church. His father was Mariano di Vanni d'Amedeo Filipepi, and Sandro was the youngest of his four children to survive into adulthood, all boys. The date of his birth is not known, but his father's tax returns in following years give his age as two in 1447 and thirteen in 1458 so, allowing for arguments as to what these statements really meant, dates between 1444 and 1446 are given.

His father was a tanner until 1460, before joining his son Antonio in a new business as a beater-out of gold leaf, which would have brought them into contact with artists. Vasari reported that Botticelli was initially trained as a goldsmith. He perhaps became an apprentice when he was about fourteen years old, which may indicate that he received a fuller education than many other Renaissance artists.

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