Botticelli trained under Filippo Lippi (1406–1469) and adopted his linear and courtly style, enriching it by contact with Verrocchio (1435–1488). It was via the latter that he developed a more analytical vision, an interest in anatomy, and an attention to gesture that revealed states of mind.
In the 1470s he formed a relationship with the dominant Medici family for whom he painted two of his most famous works, the Primavera and the Birth of Venus both in the Uffizi. The Primavera, an allegory of love and fertility, helped make Botticelli the most fashionable Italian master in the period of the Aesthetic movement in the late nineteenth century, especially in the diaphanous elegance of his mythological maidens which inspired female fashion. The Birth of Venus is quite different in its breezy robustness and the incarnate Venus not just a symbol of desire but the triumph of womanhood, a point made with greater physicality in the Mars and Venus in the National Gallery, London, where Mars’ exhaustion and Venus’ satisfaction after a bout of intimacy are portrayed without inhibitions.
Books on Sandro Botticelli
Barbara Deimling, Sandro Botticelli, 1445-1510: The Evocative Quality of Line, Köln, 2019.
Ronald Lightbown, Sandro Botticelli: Life and Work, New York, 1989.
Herbert P. Horne, Alessandro Filipepi, Commonly Called Botticelli, Painter of Florence, trans. Caterina Caneva, London, 1986.
Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Artist, 1550, trans. Julia Conway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella, New York, 2009.