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 PART2.

Self-Portrait-as-a-Young-Man

Continuing my exploration of Sandro Botticelli I will now consider his painting of the Biblical Judith who slew the Assyrian Captain Holoferness. Many artists have depicted this scene including Caravaggio  and Artesmisia  Gentlischei . Barbara Deimling in her commentary describes the painting.

” The biblical tale of Judith who slew Holoferness the Assyrian Commander -in-chief because he represented a deadly threat for the Hebrews in Bethulia was one of the favourite subjects of the Florentine Renaissance”. [1].

” Botticelli has succeeded here in capturing both movement and stillness in a unique balance”. [2].

Another painting of Botticelli’s which is commented on by Deimling is the adoration of the Magi.

” The adoration of the Magi demonstrates Botticelli’s continued progression in the handling of his subject”. [3].

” In the adoration of the Magi , the relationship between the various figures here and between the figures and the action that is taking place also appears tighter than in the earlier adoration”. [4].

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Deimling continues her   commentary on the Adoration of the Magi which is one of the most important religious pictures that Botticelli painted.

” Somewhere around 1473 Botticelli painted the famous adoration of the magi. This painting established Botticelli’s fame in Florence and may rightfully be considered the High point of his early artistic output”[5].

” a comparison  of Botticelli’s painting with his earlier representation of the Adoration of the Magi reveals the extent to which the Artist had further developed and compensated for his earlier weaknesses”. [6].

Deimling shows that as well as painting Religious icons Botticelli was increasing his stature as an artist with his portrait paintings which other artists like Da Vinci and Van Eyck had increased their status as true masters. Botticelli was to achieve the same status.

” Botticelli was also establishing a reputation as a portraits at this time as is evidenced by several pictures”. [7].

” This play of light and shade is also characteristic of a further portrait by Botticelli in which a young woman is depicted in an inner room”.[8].

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The portraits that Botticelli completed were important for his  status as an artist because he   needed the support of the wealth aristocratic nobility in Florence.

” One of Botticelli’s most famous portraits is that of Guilano De Medici the younger brother of Lorenzo the Magnificent ruler of Florence at that time”[9].

Botticelli was also painting his Madonna pictures which were heavily sought after by the Nobility in Florence.

“Botticelli created the Madonna del Magnificat in the early 1480’s . at that time it was in all likelihood his most famous picture of the virgin”. [10].

His portrayal of Landscapes may have been influenced by artists of the Northern Renaissance.

” These Landscapes point to the influence exerted upon Botticelli by contemporary Netherlands artists such as Jan Van Eyck ,Rogier Van der Weyden and Hubert van Goes” [11].

” The superiority with which Botticelli dealt with the subject of the picture was becoming ever more apparent and may be seen especially vividly in his earliest surviving fresco depicting St Augustine”. [12].

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Deimling comments on the importance of Botticelli  as his fame spread throughout all the known world including the Vatican.

” The rapid spread of Botticelli’s fame was not restricted to Florence. the artist had been receiving more and more commissions  from clients outside the city, the most renowned of these was Pope Sixtus 1v. Botticelli was to decorate the walls of the papal electoral chapel called the Sistine chapel”. [13].

” the Fresco reproduces three episodes each of which depicts a rebellion by the Hebrews against Gods anointed leaders Moses and Aaron along with the ensuing divine punishment of the agitators”. [14].

This definitely shows the power of the papacy and the Roman Catholic Church that they must not be challenged on any account.

” Sixtus 1v was employing the legitimacy of his papal authority running from Moses , via Christ to Peter whose ultimate authority conferred by Christ finds its continuation in the Popes”.[15].

In 1482 after Botticelli had returned from Rome we can  now see the full talent of Botticelli in changing pictorial form and representation. You can see in the Iconography how Botticelli has depicted his most famous mythological scenes.

” After returning from Rome in the spring of 1482 Botticelli executed a series of mythological paintings in the course of the decade which constitute the basis of his fame as an artist today”. [16].

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Deimling shows how Botticelli has portrayed Venus and Mars, Pallas and the Centaur  in his mythological representations

” If we now seek the deeper meaning behind these paintings it would appear that both illustrate the ideal of love as developed by Marsilio Ficino philosopher at the court of the Medici (Rulers in Florence) who combined platonic ideals with the Christian belief to produce a new neo platonic view of the World”. [17].

Deimling like most academics has embraced Plato’s complete subjective Idealism which is not a picture of the material external world but figments constructed out of the top of one’s head which has no relation to Reality. The basis of Western Philosophy is built on a mountain of sand once you investigate its true properties. I for one do not agree with Platonic Idealism .It is only Materialism which is the true reflection of the real material World but to give Botticelli his due Philosophy at that stage was in its infancy and was unable to develop a coherent philosophical method.

” The Figures display an accomplished beauty , loveliness and gracefulness such as correspond to the idealisation of love which they embody and which remove them from the earthly sphere”.[18].

” The stylistic composition of these pictures reveal their temporal proximity to the Roman Frescos”.[19].

Discussing Venus and Mars and the Primavera Deimling offers Love as the theme in both paintings.

” Venus and Mars a Painting completed after the Primavera and probably extended in 1483 also takes love as a dominant theme”. [20].

This concludes the second part of my consideration of Sandro Botticelli. In Part 3 I will show how Botticelli is heavily influenced by the Franciscan Friar Savonarola.

FOOTNOTES

  1. BOTTICELLI BARBARA DEIMLING TASCHEN BOOKS PG. 15
  2. DITTO PG.16
  3. DITTO PG.18
  4. DITTO PG.18
  5. DITTO PG.20
  6. DITTO PG.22
  7. DITTO PG.22
  8. DITTO PG.24
  9. DITTO PG.24
  10. DITTO PG.27
  11. DITTO PG.27
  12. DITTO PG.28
  13. DITTO PG.33
  14. DITTO PG.34-35
  15. DITTO PG.36
  16. DITTO PG.39
  17. DITTO PG.45
  18. DITTO PG.46
  19. DITTO PG.46
  20. DITTO PG.46

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