Sandro Botticelli was one of the most famous painters of the Renaissance period, and he was one of five painters chosen by Pope Sixtus IV in 1481 to adorn the Sistine Chapel with a series of religious frescos.
Little is known about the details of Botticelli’s life. His name, Sandro Botticelli, means “small wine cask” and was based on a nickname for his older brother. He became an apprentice at the age of fourteen and had his own workshop only one year later. Because of this, it is believed that Botticelli received more education than most other Renaissance artists. Botticelli never married. He disliked the idea of marriage to the point that it gave him nightmares.
Sandro Botticelli is known to have become an independent master by the year 1470. During this year, he also made his earliest painting, Fortitude, which is securely dated. He developed a distinct style at an early age, and his works were based on themes from both Christianity and paganism, so they appealed to many tastes. Many of Botticelli’s early works focused more on the human figure than on space. Among his major early works that followed this style is St. Sebastian. The character portrayed in this piece is melancholic and thoughtful. Botticelli’s most popular paintings are Birth of Venus and Spring. In 1481, Botticelli was summoned by Pope Sixtus IV along with other prominent artists to create a mural for the walls of the Sistine Chapel in Rome. Because of this, he gained popularity with many of the leading families in Florence and earned their patronage. By 1490, Botticelli focused on paintings with smaller figures, a technique that made his paintings appear more alive. This later method can be seen in his work Calumny of Apelle. Botticelli’s popularity waned after his death, with newer styles taking his works out of the limelight. During the High Renaissance period, his name was virtually unknown, and only through the reassessment of his works did it regain some of its lost fame.
- Botticelli was a follower of Savonarola, a Dominican friar and preacher during the Renaissance.
- Botticelli was a son of a tanner.
- Botticelli was accused of sodomy, but charges were eventually dropped.