The Italian master who painted ‘The Birth of Venus’

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The Birth of Venus, c. 1485. Uffizi, Florence

May 17, On This Day

The Renaissance artist from Florence

Probable self-portrait of Botticelli, in his Adoration of the Magi (1475)

Born circa 1445, Italian painter Sandro Botticelli of the Early Renaissance died centuries ago today, on May 17, 1510. He was actually rediscovered as late as the latter part of the 19th century, and his prolific works appreciated anew.

The Birth of Venus, c. 1485. Uffizi, Florence
Primavera (c. 1482), icon of the springtime renewal of the Florentine Renaissance. Left to right: Mercury, the Three Graces, Venus, Flora, Chloris, Zephyrus

He painted a wide range of mythological and religious subjects, as well as portraits. His best-known works are The Birth of Venus and Primavera, both in the Uffizi in Florence; he also spent some months painting in Pisa in 1474 and the Sistine Chapel in Rome in 1481–82.

Temptations of Christ, 1480–1482, Sistine Chapel
Dante Alighieri, c. 1495

His last works show him moving in a direction opposite to that of Leonardo da Vinci (seven years his junior) and the new generation of painters creating the High Renaissance style, and instead returning to a style that many have described as more Gothic or “archaic”.

The Outcast (Despair), c. 1496