By Alexis Culotta 

The finale of a famed Florentine: Early Renaissance painter Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli, died 17 May 1510. Born around the year 1445, Botticelli began his artistic training at the age of 17 with an apprenticeship with Fra Filippo Lippi. He absorbed Lippi’s style and progressed quickly as an artist, so much so that by 1470 he had established his own studio. 

Botticelli’s acclaim grew exponentially in Florence, thanks in part to both the connections he built during his days with Lippi and also to his growing network of patrons. In addition to the Florentine Medici family, for example, Botticelli also enjoyed a prominent commission from Pope Sixtus IV in Rome in the early 1480s. There he joined a team of celebrated artists, such as Pietro Perugino and Domenicho Ghirlandaio, to conjure a series of frescoed narratives including Temptations of Christ, to encircle the chapel. 

Exploring varied themes throughout his career, Botticelli nevertheless brought the same grace and coloristic vibrancy to every composition. This brilliance ensured Botticelli’s popularity as a painter, however shifts in the cultural climate of Florence near the century’s end proved detrimental. It was during the 1490s that Botticelli fell under the influence of fervent Dominican friar Savonarola, and thus his paintings abandoned many of the characteristics that made his earlier works so successful. By the time of his death in 1510, Botticelli had fallen out of favor, his work overshadowed by contemporary rising talents. Fortunately, since Botticelli’s demise, his paintings have been reconsidered, and the artist has been returned to the ranks of the greatest 15th-century Italian masters. 

Virgin and Child with an Angel, 1475-1485. Tempera on panel. Art institute of Chicago. 

Judith with the Head of Holofernes, 1495-1500. Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam. 

Scenes from the Story of Nastagio deli Onesti, 1483. Mixed media on panel. Museo del Prado, Madrid. 

Pallas Athena. Pen and traces of black chalk on prepared paper. Biblioteca Ambrosiana, Milan. 

Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, 1470-1480. Tempera on panel, Victoria & Albert Museum, London. 

Primavera, 1482. Tempera. Galleria degli Uffizi. 

Birth of Venus, 1483-1485. Tempera. Galleria degli Uffizi. 

Temptations of Christ, 1481-1482. Fresco, Sistine Chapel, Vatican City. 

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