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Botticelli and the search for the Divine

Exhibition April 15 − July 9, 2017
The largest and arguably the most important show of works by Botticelli in the United States

Sandro Botticelli(CA. 1445 – 1520), perhaps like no other artist embodies the artistic achievements of the Renaissance in Florence in the XV century. "Botticelli and the search for the Divine" explores the dramatic changes of style and themes in the works of the painter – from the poetic images of classical gods and goddesses to strictly religious subjects. The exhibition traces developments in the political and religious climate of Florence during the lifetime of the master.

At the height of his career Botticelli was supported by the powerful family of the Medici, headed by Lorenzo the Magnificent. The unmistakable style of the artist reflected the tastes of its patrons. Paintings inspired by ancient works, are characterized by clear contours, lyrical poses of characters and flowing transparent fabrics. The exhibition presents two paintings of the period – "Minerva and the centaur" (1481) Uffizi gallery, and "Venus" (CA. 1490) of the Sabauda gallery in Turin. Both in tune with the famous "Birth of Venus" and demonstrate the artist's skill in depicting the fine figures of classical mythology.

In later years Botticelli became a harsh follower of the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola, who, after the expulsion of Piero di Lorenzo de ' Medici from Florence in 1494, established a theocracy. All sorts of "excesses" were heavily criticized, and in 1497, the infamous "Bonfire of the vanities" burned all the "worldly": cosmetics, mirrors, rich clothes, musical instruments and paintings with naked and pagan characters.

Under the influence of Savonarola, Botticelli's graceful manner has given way to a new ascetic approach, and secular subjects disappeared. In that time, the artist was dominated by the harsh religious works. And such masterpieces as "Madonna and child with young John the Baptist" (C. 1495, Palazzo Pitti, Florence) demonstrate a striking contrast with the earlier sentimental style.

The exhibition also presents paintings by Filippo Lippi – the teacher of Botticelli, his pupil Filippino Lippi and other contemporaries. Only the Museum of fine arts, Boston has collected 24 works from international collections, including his own "Madonna and child with John the Baptist" (C. 1500).