Friday, October 4, 2013

Botticelli - A lonely painter that inspired the masses - Dan Meinert - ArtsVis199
Sandro Botticelli was born in 15th century Florence, Italy. He was, in my opinion, the most influential painter of the early Italian Renaissance. I chose to research Botticelli at Lilly because of a recent book I read, Dan Brown's Inferno. To give you some additional background, if you haven't read Inferno, its main protagonist is Robert Langdon, a Harvard professor and expert in Symbols. Mr. Langdon embarks on James Bond like adventures through Europe. On these adventures, he is usually jumping from one clue to the next to solve a puzzle rooted in artistic history. Along the way, the answers are usually hidden in paintings, and as a result, Inferno contained many of Botticelli's most famous works. Because I had not heard of Botticelli before the book, I was curious to research his legacy; so this assignment's timing is ideal.
Botticelli's most famous paintings are:

The Birth of Venus - the model was rumored to be Botticelli's lifelong crush, Simonetta Vespucci. He was buried at her feet when he died in 1510.

The Primavera - Giorgio Vasari, the most famous of the post Renaissance recollection piece authors, applauded this work as Botticelli's best for the level of detail and care present in each figure
Botticelli became more and more religiously focused throughout the course of his career. We can only speculate as to the source of Botticelli's religious awakening, but it may have been a propaganda move by the Catholic Church, which at that time would stop at nothing to support its message and reach the masses.
This painting is called The Mystical Nativity, and obviously shows the birth of Jesus as the angels dance in the heavens and the onlookers rejoice. 
If only Botticelli could have lived a few more years, he would have completed his works illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy, the book that vividly displayed the path through hell, purgatory, and the path to heaven for people of that day. These works would have been a nice complement to one of his late life paintings, the Map  of Hell, which depicts the 9 rings of hell. In this painting, each of the deadly sins has a unique punishment. For example, prostitutes hang by their hair. It reminds me of the movie Se7en with Morgan Freeman. 
Late in his career, Botticelli drew characters smaller and smaller relative to the painting, which facilitated more movement of the eye around the scene of each painting. 

I would love to go to Florence to study more of Botticelli's works. Hopefully I can make it there after graduation. Botticelli's precision and emphasis on detail will inspire my drawings in class from here forward.

1 comment:

  1. Dear Dan,
    If you are still at Duke and can drive or hitch a ride to Williamsburg VA to the Muscarelle Museum, we are hosting 16 of Botticelli's later works from Feb 11th until April . Please come. Also I will have a show at your Louise Jones Brown Gallery March 3-31. I'd love to meet you! CG Hardy