Artist profile: Botticelli – Intro

Every month, I profile an artist who inspires my own art, in several segments.

Self portrait of Sandro Botticelli
Self portrait from Adoration of the Magi (1475)

Sandro Botticelli started life as Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, and picked up the nickname Botticelli – which derives from a word that means “little barrel” in Italian – from his brother. He was friendly with Leonardo da Vinci, and was quite prolific. He’s best known now for The Birth of Venus (which frequently finds its way onto beauty product labels) and Primavera, but was famous during his lifetime for his many Virgin Marys.

Explaining why I like Botticelli so much is difficult. You know how much I love Leonardo da Vinci because of how realistically he painted. Although Botticelli had no problem painting realistically, sometimes – especially when he gives ladies those long necks or severely asymmetrical facial features – his works recall the Mannerist style that emerged after the Renaissance… which I absolutely despise. I hate it.

Am I a nutjob? A hypocrite? Probably. But looking at his works more closely, I can easily list why I’m attracted to his art.

What I love about Botticelli’s work

  • sense of mystery and symbolic meaning
  • action and storytelling
  • complexity – several things going on at once
  • outside settings and incorporation of nature
  • Mucha-esque use of outlines
  • beautiful, but not too beautiful, people

    How it’s affected my style
    It’s funny how hardly any of my favorite artists directly influence my style. It’s more a feeling or a principle that they represent. For me, Botticelli tells stories and mysteries using nature and pretty people – sometimes more than one story in a single painting. I’m not sure if that makes sense; I may find out more about my own opinions as I write about his artwork.

    This is exciting!

    Other parts in the Botticelli artist profile series
    Pagan stuff


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