Botticelli And The Renaissance

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The Renaissance was a period of change in which values shifted throughout Europe, especially within the world of art, evident in the work of the Italian Renaissance painter Botticelli. During the fifteenth century, Florence was filled with artistic, technological, and scientific achievements. Founded on humanist beliefs and the rediscovery of the classical world, Renaissance culture focused on heroic ideals and promoted the study of the liberal arts, largely focusing on man’s intellectual potential. At the time, Florence had been significantly impacted by the powerful Medici family, who had political and financial influence over most of central Italy (Florence and Central Italy, 1400-1600 A.D.). The Medici family was largely acknowledged for …show more content…
Although pagan imagery such as Greek and Roman mythology grew common during the Renaissance period, many priests and preachers still did not approve of it. Among them was an Italian friar and preacher named Girolamo Savonarola, who began to have an impact on the people of Florence on ideas regarding religious artwork during the Renaissance period (Bowen). The first example of Botticelli’s work that questioned authority is his painting “Primavera”, one of the best-known works of Renaissance art. This painting, also known as “Allegory of Spring”, was created in 1482 and is believed to have been commissioned for the marriage of Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco, a member of the Medici family. The figure in the center, the Roman goddess Venus, is surrounded by a group of mythological figures, including Mercury and a blindfolded Cupid (“Botticelli’s Primavera”). Botticelli is also able to challenge the authority of the church through his painting the “Birth of Venus”. Commissioned by the Medici family and created in 1486, the “Birth of Venus” depicts the Roman goddess Venus emerging from the sea on a shell, based on a Roman myth that explains her birth (“Botticelli’s Birth of Venus”). Botticelli’s mythological paintings “would have been viewed as ‘lascivious’ by Savonarola, particularly the Birth of Venus, …show more content…
During the Renaissance, many people across Europe began to turn to science and scholarship for answers instead of God and faith. The most notable example of Botticelli’s work in this area is “Saint Augustine in His Study”. The painting, completed in 1480, was painted for the Umiliati brethren of the Church of Ognissanti and depicts Saint Augustine surrounded by his books and other intellectual objects in his study (Lightbown). The lapis lazuli book, that is second on the top shelf behind Saint Augustine, “represents a bibliophile’s possession, one treated as a rare object to be treasured and tactually savored”. The book is painted with a very expensive lapis lazuli paint as opposed to the blue clock face to the right which is painted with a very common azurite paint (Stapelford). Botticelli elevates the visual impact of the book and enhances its importance in comparison to other unintellectual objects within the painting by using different qualities of paint, demonstrating the value of learning and scholarship. Furthermore, the armillary sphere, a tool used to plot the movements of the planets, sun, and moon, is prominently located on the left of the top shelf. This intellectual machine is “symbolic of the learned life that the young scholar has led up to that point” and serves as a reminder of Saint Augustine’s flirtation with the

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