Sandro Botticelli: Mythos, Melancholia, and Man

A biography of the life and works of the Renaissance painter Sandro Botticelli.

This paper discusses the legacy of Sandro Botticelli, known as one of the best and most spiritually enlightened of the Neo-Platonic Renaissance painters who was eventually hired by the Pope to work on the Sistine Chapel. He was born to an artisan-class family of tanners where his artistic temperament was ignored and started his working career as a goldsmith until he received his first apprenticeship as an artist. Eventually he rose to fame, gained more commissions, both creating panels and the like for rich merchant families and frescoes and other church decorations. He became known for his dreamy and melancholic mythic religiosity and implications of human form and feature and ranked among the greatest of the allegorical and mystical painters of his time.
“Sandro’s original apprenticeship as an artist was under the legendary Fra Filippo Lippi. In many ways this was a fortunate choice in masters; Botticelli’s mystical and dreamy nature fit well with Lippi’s penchant for the ideal and devotional. An apprenticeship in one of the more modern, naturalistic studios might have created a far different Sandro Botticelli, or hidden his actual talent. (Botticelli, 13) Lippi’s influence is obvious in most of his student’s early work, to such a degree that most of the earliest Botticelli paintings are virtually recreations of Lippi pieces, keeping content and design and scene in common while changing method and form ever so slightly. The resemblance between Botticelli’s Madonna Guidi and Lippi’s Madonna and Child with Angel is far from accidental.”