BOTTICELLI, Sandro 1501
Tempera on canvas, 108,5 x 75 cm
National Gallery, London Mystical Nativity fg Italian Early Renaissance Painter, 1445-1510
Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli or Il Botticello ("The Little Barrel"; March 1, 1445 ?C May 17, 1510) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance (Quattrocento). Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was characterized by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli. His posthumous reputation suffered until the late 19th century; since then his work has been seen to represent the linear grace of Early Renaissance painting, and The Birth of Venus and Primavera rank now among the most familiar masterpieces of Florentine art.
Details of Botticelli's life are sparse, but we know that he became an apprentice when he was about fourteen years old, which would indicate that he received a fuller education than did other Renaissance artists. Vasari reported that he was initially trained as a goldsmith by his brother Antonio. Probably by 1462 he was apprenticed to Fra Filippo Lippi; many of his early works have been attributed to the elder master, and attributions continue to be uncertain. Influenced also by the monumentality of Masaccio's painting, it was from Lippi that Botticelli learned a more intimate and detailed manner. As recently discovered, during this time, Botticelli could have traveled to Hungary, participating in the creation of a fresco in Esztergom, ordered in the workshop of Fra Filippo Lippi by Vitez J??nos, then archbishop of Hungary.
By 1470 Botticelli had his own workshop. Even at this early date his work was characterized by a conception of the figure as if seen in low relief, drawn with clear contours, and minimizing strong contrasts of light and shadow which would indicate fully modeled forms.