Botticelli was a Florentine painter whose works in many ways shaped the Renaissance milieu. A century after Botticelli’s time, Renaissance, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was tremed by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age" of art History , a thought, suitably enough, he expressed while recounting the life and works of Botticelli.
He was born in Florence in 1445 and was apprenticed to a goldsmith at a very young age. However seeing that he was not happy there, his parents sent him to the painter Fra Filippo Lippi as an apprentice. He spent all his life in Florence except for a visit to Rome in 1481-82. There he painted wall frescoes in the Sistine Chapel of the Vatican.
Under the influence of Lippi, Botticelli was drawn to the mystical concept of Neoplatonism. The elevation of estheticism and transcendental nature of this philosophy was evident in his works.
Neoplatonism was a Pagan philosophy, which celebrated beauty and nature. Neoplatonists believed human perfection and happiness were attainable in this world, through the search of beauty in this world. Perfection and happiness , seen as synonymous,could also be achieved through philosophical contemplation.
Renaissance or Rebirth was a period of reconnection with classical knowledge with a firm focus on importance of living well in the present. Renaissance paintings are the best representatives of the spirit of the age.
Italian Renaissance has often been heralded as the era of the awakening of the "modern" epoch. Early Renaissance painters like Botticelli contributed to the radical philosophis of this period.
The most comprehensive way to understand a painter is taking a detour through his paintings. For paintings tells us more than any written word about the painters. This holds true especially for Botticelli because art critics and psychologists proclaim his works as clear reflection of his mind.
The Birth of Venus: Famous Botticelli Painting
This painting, which has pretty much defined the way art is perceived today, can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. It depicts the Goddess Venus, having emerged from the sea as a full-grown woman, arriving at the seashore. The exquisite figure of Venus emerges from the water on a shell, blown towards shore by the Zephyrs (wind God), goddesses of the seasons, hands her a flowered cloak. The nakedness of the goddess is not just about sensuality, it was actually supposed to signify spiritual love. Botticelli took great pains to make the figure of the classical goddess aesthetically perfect, however like in most of his paintings the plausibility factor was neglected. To have a neck as long as the one Venus has in this painting is a biological impossibility!
Primavera: Famous Botticelli Painting
A joyous celebration of spring –these are the words that are most commonly used to describe Botticelli’s famous painting, which now sits in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. In reality its much more than that, it uses religious Christian iconography to project Pagan Philosophies. Botticelli employs his trademark style in this painting-emphasis on line, elongation of the body, serene facial expression, gracefulness of pose and composition, and delicate coloring, and yet this painting is unique and distinct.
Venus is depicted standing serenely in the middle of an orange orchard, she is splendidly framed by an array of foliage. To her left is Mercury, Messenger of the Gods, recognizable by his winged shoes and his snake-entwined staff, gazing upward and probably trying to dispel the cloud of gloom that has gathered above his head. To her extreme left are the three Graces, daughters of Zeus – Aglaia who gives, Euphrosyne who receives, Thalia who returns -- engaged in a dance. Notice Venus’ son, Amor, floating blind-folded above her head, aiming his arrow toward the three sisters.
Madonnas: Famous Botticelli Painting
Botticelli painted a series of Madonnas and his style evolved with each attempt; he used more details and hints of space, he was also distinctly ambitious in the settings. His latter Madonnas are distinctly more artistic than the earlier ones. In fact art scholars claim that one can chart the growth of Botticelli the painter, through his Madonnas.