The Relevance of Sandro Botticelli's Biography and Ethnicity in Interpreting His Art Work

Updated on August 20, 2018

Introduction

Art is a visual expression of human’s skills, feelings and imagination on a painting or image. In most cases artworks have different meanings or interpretations. This may also vary from one viewer to another depending on their perception and attitude towards the artist. Understanding what the artists mean in their artworks need a careful observation of their paintings. Grouping of artworks using fundamental aspects such as styles and techniques is very common in the art industry; grouping artwork by biography cannot also be ignored. Creativity of the most artists is influenced by their background information (Grove, 2013). Examinations on various artworks show that the painter and the painting have an intimate and important connection. This gives a reason as to why understanding the biography and ethnicity of an artist is important in interpreting his artwork.

In the west, biography and ethnicity has been regarded as the major determinants of an artist’s nature of painting. It is believed that the artist is inspired by the environment around him where his ethnicity and background information matter a lot. Artists who died long time ago are still fresh in the minds of the viewers because their works were identified with their biography. When artwork is identified with the artist’s background and ethnicity, it reflects the originality of the work. The beauty of art is noticed by its originality. His works rotate around is earlier life and ethnicity which largely involved religious activities (Grove, 2013). This paper analyzes the life and works of Sandro Botticelli whose most of his paintings which were majorly displayed in the churches and chapels were about religious activities and religious people.

Biography of Sandro Botticelli

Sandro was born in 1445 in the city of Florence; he was a religious painter who originated from Italy. His father introduced him into religious activities at a tender age where he served in the parish church and he was later baptized in the same church .He went through Florentina school where he was patronized by a Lorenzo de’ Medic who also influenced his works. Sandro worked as a goldsmith but he had great passion in painting. Some of his earlier works portrayed him as a man who believed in renaissance. He also concentrated on numerous mythological subjects from which he made a range of religious paintings. Some of these paintings are the best today (Lightbrown, 2017). He was involved in a number of religious workshops which to some extent influenced his creativity. In 1470s, he became very popular as most of his mythological paintings were largely used. This improved his reputation and enabled him to gain recognition as one of the best Italian artists. Sandro chose to contribute less on human anatomy, peoples’ perspectives of lives and took a different field that was dominated by religion and ethnicity. In his artistic career, he was apprenticed to Fillippo Lippi who was one of the top painters during that time. Though he was a conservative in many aspects of life, he learnt various styles of painting that he later applied in his works. Fillippo thought him how to paint and within a short period of time, he had become so good and was using the styles that were only used by the master. He learnt a unique technique of round tondo format which he used in most of his paintings that were hanged in churches and religious places (Uffizi, 2017). He was known for his many paintings and this style of round tondo. This was a technique which was used by few artists who painted images that were displayed in palaces. At some point he lived in the Sitine Chapel in Rome where he used to paint religious images. His ethnicity and culture also influenced some of his works. Sandro had a collection of master pieces which were; the birth of Venus, primavera and as well as which became very popular in the world. At some point, the artist destroyed some of his works because they lacked a religious theme.

Relevance of Biography and Ethnicity of Sandro

According to Giorgio Vasaris: Live of the artist, artists were initially organized in terms of their biographies .Even though an assumption may be made that art work can be interpreted or understood by tracking the identity of the artist, some artists do paintings that have nothing to do with their lives or ethnicity making it difficult to analyze the photo using this criteria (Julian and Antonio 2008). These artists mostly tend to focus on the protracted issues that are affecting the community or society and not their personal lives. They also focus on current issues or do painting for fun. Sandro‘s paintings reflect a larger part of his personal life. Every artist is after demonstrating the power of personal talent. Sandro has surmounted all kinds of obstacles that came due to his major in religious paintings to come up with images that depict his strong relationship with the church. Unlike in psychoanalytical biography where art is supposed to reveal the unconscious, Sandro’s paintings reveal his personal life.

The biography and works of Sandro have expressed deep truth and reflection about his innermost self. Some works reveal his level of artistically conventional education (Judy 2012). Sandro Botticelli gives the historians a dramatic choice on how to relate his personal life, ethnicity with his numerous paintings. Some earliest paintings of Sandro depicts an artist who was not yet able to manipulate all the components needed to paint a big and appealing image but his biography revealed that he was a man who loved simplicity. Studying a single stage of Sandro Botticelli’s life has a great impact on the way one interprets his art work .when going through Sandro’s biography, one will realize that he easily interprets his works .Sandro has a well organized biography that shows different stages of his life (Julian and Antonio,2013). His biography helps the viewers to connect his personal life and his art work. It reveals the artistic motivation behind his creativity in the paintings and provides a quick means of interpreting the artist’s work.

The biography of an artist helps the viewer to learn more about him and develop a clear picture on what to expect in his art works. Some of the things that can be learned are Sandro’s biography are;

  1. What influenced his art work or the purpose of developing the image?
  2. Relevant education level about him and the trainings that he has undergone as revealed by his ability to apply different styles. When one has this knowledge, he will easily understand the motivation behind his works.
  3. The artist’s biography helps to understand different experiences that the artist may not say directly.
  4. The skills that he learnt about styles that are employed in his artwork.

Sandro‘s biography is not meant to market him but provide an idea on his believes, skills and motivation that will enable the viewer know what to expect from him.

Analysis of Sandro’s Works

Most of Sandro’s works depict a religious background attributed to his late life in the 1990s where he became a staunch supporter of Girolamo Savonarola, a leader of Florentine republic who believed in God. During this time he had already become a Christian fundamentalism. The following are his art works;

Magnificat Madonna

         This is a painting of virgin Mary and Jesus which Sandro painted in 1483.This image was painted at a time when this kind of sculptures were very famous and could be displayed not only in churches but also public offices. His interest and pas
This is a painting of virgin Mary and Jesus which Sandro painted in 1483.This image was painted at a time when this kind of sculptures were very famous and could be displayed not only in churches but also public offices. His interest and pas

Mystic Crucifixion

        This painting shows an image that depicts the state of Florence and its fate in the background. It shows a flourishing town with a bright future. It shows Christ on the cross and beside him is a weeping angel. On the fore ground is Mary Magda
This painting shows an image that depicts the state of Florence and its fate in the background. It shows a flourishing town with a bright future. It shows Christ on the cross and beside him is a weeping angel. On the fore ground is Mary Magda

Adoration of the Magi

         Adoration of the mag is a painting that was made in 1475 by Sandro earlier in his career. The work is displayed in Uffizi in Florence; it is one of the paintings that gained popularity. The image reveals two aspects of Sandro’s life; his bac
Adoration of the mag is a painting that was made in 1475 by Sandro earlier in his career. The work is displayed in Uffizi in Florence; it is one of the paintings that gained popularity. The image reveals two aspects of Sandro’s life; his bac

Conclusion

Sandro Botticelli played a big role in the art industry since his works were very meaningful and relevant. He grew up as a religious man and he believed in what he did. His works that were done with great passion and motivation influenced other upcoming artists during the time of renaissance and to date his works are used as a reference and motivation for the upcoming artists. Sandro’s works revealed a close relationship that exists between the artist’s personal life and the painting of the artist. Most of his paintings depict him as an artist who was able to incorporate his personal life with his works by coming up with pictorial elements that revealed his religious background and ethnicity. It is evident that some of the images represent certain stages of development in his life which gave him experiences that were later transferred to his works. Furthermore, the influence that Savonarola had in Sandro’s work is evident. Sandro’s biography shows that he was his follower and since he valued his teachings, it was easy for him to apply them in his works. Most artists are motivated form the experiences that they undergo throughout their personal lives. Such experiences can be manifested in their works and Sandro is a good example since a good number of his paintings rotate around his life.

Reference List

"Adoration of the Magi". Mountain West Digital Library. Utah Academic Library Consortium. Retrieved

24 July. 2018.

Julian Kliemann and Antonio Manno, 2013“Vasari. III,” in

Grove Art Online. Oxford Art Online.

Judy Sund, Van Gogh 2012. Art & Ideas Series (New York: Phaidon Press

Finnan, V. 2008. Italian Renaissance Art. [Online] Italian Renaissance Art.com. Available at: http://www.italian-renaissance-art.comAccessed

24. July. 2018.

Fine Art America. (2017). Birth of Venus by Sandro Botticelli. [Online] Available at: https://fineartamerica.com/featured/birth-of-venus-sandro-botticelli.html Accessed

26 July. 2018.

Study.com. (2017). Adoration of the Magi by Botticelli: Analysis & Overview - Video & Lesson Transcript | Study.com. [Online] Available at:https://study.com/academy/lesson/adoration-of-the-magi-by-botticelli-analysis-lesson-quiz.htmlAccessed

26 July. 2018.

Uffizi.org. (2017). Allegory of Spring or Primavera by Botticelli at Uffizi Gallery in Florence. [Online] Available at: http://www.uffizi.org/artworks/la-primavera-allegory-of-spring-by-sandro-botticellAccessed

26 July. 2018.

W. Lightbrown, R. (2017). Sandro Botticelli | Italian painter. [Online] Encyclopedia Britannica. Available at: http://www.britannica.com/biography/sandro-botticelliAccessed

26 July. 2018.

Zöllner, Frank (2005). Sandro Botticelli. Prestel-Verlag. ISBN 3791332732

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