SANDRO BOTTICELLI (1445-1510) A FLORENTINE RENAISSANCE ARTIST.HIS REVOLUTIONARY APPROACH TO PICTORIAL FORM WOULD CHANGE FLORENTINE ART DURING THE PERIOD OF THE RENAISSANCE. HIS ART WOULD INFLUENCE MICHELANGELO , RAPHAEL AND TITIAN DURING THE HIGH RENAISSANCE IN THE 15TH CENTURY .PART 1.

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In this posting I am going to be describing the great influence of Sandro Botticelli who challenged the way pictorial form should be represented. Peter and Linda Murray in their art of the Renaissance begin by showing the development of Botticelli.

” Botticelli was born about 1445 and died in 1510. he too is an artist who crosses the dividing line between the hopeful confidence of the 15th century and the dark fulfilment  of the Savonorala period”.[1].

Gianfranco Savonorala was a Dominican period who during the latter Years of Botticelli’s life had a great effect upon him. ” It can clearly be seen how later under the impact of Savonorala’s theocracy and the troubles besetting Italy , Botticelli imagery becomes less esoteric and more clearly Christian . the best possible example is the mystic Nativity”.[2].

” In order to emphasise the importance of the Madonna and Child and the relative unimportance of the humans he has reverted to the early medieval device of disregarding scale and perspective and grading the actual sizes of the figures according to their importance”. [3].

It is obvious that Botticelli is a Florentine painter with who uses line and contour  very  effectively .

” The feature that links him most firmly with the Florentine heritage is his linear quality. The view of Botticelli that estimates him as an artist  of languid grace, soft and of a kind of sexless sensuality”. [4].

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Botticelli in his imagery uses  pictorial form in such a way that the imagery is both  calm and beautiful.  This is confirmed by Peter and Linda Murray.

” For all the agony of suffering that Botticelli expresses the forms of his dead Christ echo those of the calm proud nude in (Mars and Venus) and the stylisation he has used to render the impact of his forms more poignant are virtually the same kind as in the mythology”. [5].

“At the height of his most successful period during the 1480’s he had made use of every convention of continuous representation, movement , agitation of pose and drapery”. [6].

Manfred Wundrum in his study of the Primavera shows how Botticelli who uses gold imagery frequently , was trained as a Goldsmith.

” After an apprenticeship  as a goldsmith which was to influence his whole work. He became the pupil of Fillipo Lippi”. [7].

” His early work takes up the plastic realism of the past generation .The adoration of the magi is characteristic with its clear compositional 3 dimensional figures, strong bright colours and individual treatment of the faces”. [8].

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The way that Botticelli alters and changes pictorial form is recounted by Wundrum.

”  Later the interest of in space and physical form diminishes in favour of  the richly moving line of slender figures and fine detail of jewels and richly embroidered dress”. [9].

” Botticelli was well able  to achieve monumental effects. He soon became a master of the large format”. [10].

 Wundrum also comments on the influence of Savonarola’s theocracy in Botticelli’s  later life.

” The religious favour depicted in these later works may have been the result of Savonorala’s sermons calling for repentance but this tendency was already noticeable  in his mature work. with his death in 1510 the period of Italian painting came to an end”. [11].

” Probably executed in 1477/8 (La Primerva) for Pier Francesco de ‘Medici’s villa in Castello .this panel combines a monumental format with a technique reminiscent of miniature painting. Like the birth of Venus it testifies to the change in artistic thinking which took place in Florence after 1450″. [12].

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Botticelli’s art  changes rapidly during this period with his  elongated and exaggerated figures. Wundrum suggests that Botticelli through this revolutionary act  changes  the representation of  artistic imagery in the 15th Century.

” Perspective and anatomy  are no longer central themes of composition which is now dominated instead by a sensitive handling of line and elongated proportions”.[13].

” The pale figures some dressed in transparent robes stand out against the dark background”. [14].

Barbara Deimling in her study of Botticelli suggests that Botticelli’s very lifelike pictures show that he  studied  models from antiquity.

” He adopted (Botticelli) the laws of central perspective and studied the sculptures of antiquity , their ideal physique perhaps best manifested in his nude figures”. [15].

” Yet his paintings also contain philosophical political and religious concerns far removed from a desire merely to reproduce the charm and beauty of the figures in cheerful scenes from  mythology and religion”. [16].

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Deimling like other commentators discusses the change in style for Botticelli who was directly influenced by the religious and political upheaval in Florence in the 15th and 16th Centuries.

” The philosophical ideas underlying Botticelli’s pictures became increasingly displaced by other world views and the political and religious situation changed however  causing Botticelli’s paintings to recede more and more in the background”. [17].

”  After concluding his training under Lippi in Prado sometimes around 1467 Botticelli went to Florence where he set up a workshop of his own”.[18].

Botticelli’s change of style is obvious in some of the panels he painted . ” Botticelli’s change in style is especially visible through an examination of two panels depicting the Virgin”. [19].

” This reveals Botticelli’s new orientation one in favour of more voluminous forms demonstrating a more elaborate three dimensional treatment”. [20].

This concludes my first  part on Botticelli’s artistic practices in 15th Century Florence.

FOOTNOTES

  1. ART OF THE RENAISSANCE PETER AND LINDA MURRAY PG 217
  2. DITTO PG 217.
  3. DITTO PG. 218
  4. DITTO PG.218
  5. DITTO PG.220
  6. DITTO PG.220
  7. RENAISSANCE TASCHEN BOOKS MANFRED WUNDRUM PG. 38
  8. DITTO PG.38
  9. DITTO PG.38
  10. DITTO PG. 38
  11. DITTO PG.38
  12. DITTO PG.38
  13. DITTO PG.38
  14. DITTO PG.38
  15. BOTTICELLI  TASCHEN BOOKS BARBARA DEIMLING PG. 8
  16. DITTO PG.8
  17. DITTO PG.8
  18. DITTO PG.15
  19. DITTO PG.15
  20. DITTO PG.15

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