Born as Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, he is better known as Sandro Botticelli, an Italian painter during the period of the Early Renaissance. He is best known for his mythological allegories, and his most famous works of art include Primavera, Birth of Venus, and Pallas and the Centaur. Botticelli was one of the few privileged artists that got the opportunity to work on the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome.
At the height of his career, he was the most popular painter in Florence. He worked in all the current genres of Florentine art, including painting altarpieces in fresco and on panel, round paintings, small panel pictures, and devotional triptychs.
His career spanned during the “golden age” of art in Italy, during the time of the great patron of the arts, Lorenzo de’Medici. However, he was quite famous, and didn’t need to depend on his Medici friends for work. Fun fact: his reputation suffered after his death for several centuries, only to go up later on.
One of the controversies surrounding Botticelli is that he burned several of his paintings. The legend is based on the classical mythology in the great Florentine bonfire of 1497. However, the historical record on the event is not clear.
1. Virgin and Child Supported by an Angel in a Garland 1465 1467
There are a few Virgin and Child with an Angel paintings done by Botticelli. They are part of a series of Madonna paintings done from 1465 to 1470. The painting was influenced by Filippo Lippi and his work Virgin and Child and Angels.
2. Fortitude 1470
Fortitude is the first recorded masterpiece by Sandro. It is one of the paintings done in a cycle of paintings dedicated to the Virtues and commissioned from Piero del Pollaiolo. The painting is housed in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence. The other six paintings were done by another artist, who was originally hired for the job.
3. Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, c. 1475
This tempera on panel painting is one of the few portraits done by Botticelli. At the time, portraits were not as popular. It is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.
4. Adoration of the Magi 1475
The name Adoration of the Magi is given traditionally to the subject in the Nativity of Jesus in art, in which the three Magi, found Jesus by following a star. It is one of the classic biblical themes. Botticelli was commissioned to paint at least seven versions of this painting. The work is housed at the Uffizi in Florence.
5. Mary Return of Judith to Bethulia 1470-1472
In many of Botticelli’s work, he explores the relationship between males and females. And in most cases, the female comes out on top. Such is the case here, where the female character subdued the male in a hostile environment.
6. The Adoration of the Magi, Sandro Botticelli, 1475 – 1476
We said that there are seven versions of the Adoration of the Magi. Watching them shows the true genius and talent of Botticelli. Basically, the different colors perfectly sum up the mood, going from lighter to dark.
7. Mary with the Child and Singing Angels 1477
We said previously that Botticelli painted a lot of biblical, mythological, and religious paintings. At the time of his career, Mary and Jesus were some of the most prominent figures in terms of inspiration.
8. Portrait of a Man with a Medal of Cosimo the Elder 1474-1475
This is one of the many paintings Botticelli made for the Medici family. The painting is also known as Portrait of a Youth with a Medal. It is a tempera painting, featuring a young man displaying medal stamped with the likeness of Cosimo de’Medici.
9. Portrait of Giuliano de Medici 1478–1482
Giuliano was the second son of Piero de’Medici, and was a co-ruler of Florence, along with his brother Lorenzo the Magnificent. Giuliano complemented his brother’s image as the patron of arts with his own image as the “golden boy”.
10. Primavera c. 1477–1482
Primavera is one of the most important Early Renaissance works, a large panel painting in tempera paint. Described as one of the most written about, and also the most controversial painting in the world. What is so special about Primavera is that it depicts a group of figures from classical mythology, but there is no story that can bring them together. Most critics nowadays agree that Primavera is an allegorical celebration of spring.
11. Portrait of a Young Woman, 1480
Many critics believe that the woman on the painting is actually Simonetta Vespucci, who is said to be loved by Giuliano de’Medici. She was the beauty of Florence in the 15th century.
12. The Punishment of Korah and the Stoning of Moses and Aaron 1481-82
This painting is a unique in a way that there are three different scenes. The scene in the middle is the most important one, where Moses, Aaron, and six of the rebellious Israelites want to burn their incense dishes as a gift to God. Korah and his sons were punished because they opposed the leadership of Moses.
13. Temptations of Christ, 1482
This fresco painting was Botticelli’s trial for the Sistine Chapel. It is one of the decorations the painter did for the famous landmark. After this work, his pay scale was set up.
14. The Birth of Venus 1485-1486
Almost everyone nowadays has seen the Birth of Venus. It is one of the most famous paintings in the whole world. And it is the most important painting in the Renaissance period. At the time, showing naked human bodies was not a popular choice. It was during the Renaissance period that artists showed more respect to the human body, and were amazed by it. Birth of Venus shows the Goddess of Love and Beauty at the shore after her birth, when she had emerged from the sea fully-grown.
15. The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti IV c.1483
For this painting, Botticelli adapted the famous Decameron by Boccaccio. He was the first artist to adapt the Decameron. This painting is one of a series of four, commissioned by Lorenzo the Magnificent.
16. The Trials of Moses 1481–1482
This is the second fresco done by Botticelli on the Sistine Chapel. It is located on the southern wall of the chapel. It shows four episodes of the life of Moses.
17. Venus and Mars, c. 1485
In mythology, Venus and Mars are lovers, despite Venus being betrothed to another God. She has an affair with Mars. In this panel painting, Botticelli shows the two gods as an allegory of beauty and valor. Mars is the god of war, while Venus is the goddess of love. Some critics believe that the painting was intended to commemorate a wedding, set to adorn the bedroom of the bride and groom.
18. Map of the Hell 1481
This piece of art is considered a masterpiece, and among the best works of Botticelli. It is a manuscript of the Divine Comedy by Dante, illustrated by 92 full-page pictures.
19. Drawings for Dante´s Divine Comedy 1485
As mentioned above, Botticelli made 92 full-page pictures for the Divine comedy manuscript. This one shows one of the nine circles of hell in which Dante put people.
20. Coronation of the Virgin 1488–1490
This altarpiece is the largest of those still in existence done by Botticelli. It was created for the church of the Dominican monastery of San Marco in Florence. It shows the Four Saints, including John the Evangelist.
21. Madonna of the Magnificat 1480-1481
Madonna of the Magnificat is one of the most famous paintings on the religious plot done by Botticelli. It is a painting of circular or tondo form, which were quite popular in Florence during the period. Housed in the Gallery of Uffizi in Florence, it portrays the Virgin Mary crowned by two angels.
22. Pallas and the Centaur 1482–1483
We said before that in many paintings, Botticelli showed women coming on top of men. And this is one such painting, in which a strong woman is portrayed restraining a centaur. The painting has been proposed as a companion piece to his Primavera, even though it is a different shape. It is one of his most famous paintings.
23. Lamentation over the Dead Christ 1490
The Lamentation of dead Christ is one of the most popular religious subjects and topics, not only for artists, but also writers. Sandro gave us his view of the event.
24. Holy Trinity, 1493
This altarpiece shows one of the most important aspects of Christianity. It depicts God, Jesus Christ his son, and the spirit.
25. The Annunciation c.1493
The biblical event on which the painting is based is known as the Annunciation to the Blessed Virgin Mary. It represents the announcement of the Incarnation by the angel Gabriel to Mary. Botticelli painted in tempera on panel, for the church of the Florentine monastery of Cestello.
26. The Mystical Nativity c. 1500–1501
What makes this painting unique is the fact it is the only signed work by Botticelli. It also features an unusual iconography for a painting of the Nativity. Nativity is the scene of the birth of Jesus, described in the gospels by Luke and Matthew.
27. Christ Crowned with Thorns c.1500
Christ with thorn crown is a famous scene in the Bible. It depicts the moment when the Romans “crowned” Jesus as a king.
28. The Calumny of Apelles 1494
The scene in the painting dates back to classical antiquity. Apelles was a Hellenistic painter who was falsely accused of conspiracy.
29. The Story of Virginia 1500-1504
This painting is one of the first Botticelli’s paintings that came to the US. It is one of the last works he made exemplifying virtue. The Story of Virginia measures 86cm tall and 165cm wide.
30. Last Miracle and the Death of St. Zenobius ca.1500-1505
Considered by many authorities part of the last surviving works by the painter. It shows three scenes from the life of Saint Zenobius.