In the Biography of Botticelli, written by Giorgio Vasari for The Lives of the Artists, it begins, “In the time of Lorenzo de’Medici, ‘Il Magnifico’, a truly golden age for men of talent, there flourished an artist name Alessandro…” Born Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, called Sandro Botticelli; the artist was praised by Vasari, but later the Florentine painter’s reputation was re-enlivened in the 19th Century and since then his two masterpieces, The Birth of Venus and, Primavera, have become known as the most familiar masterpieces of the Early Renaissance in Florence. Both works are housed in the Uffizi Gallery, among many in the Uffizi’s Botticelli Room. While Botticelli studied design under his brother Antonio, a goldsmith, his artistic training as a painter was formulated greatly under Fra’ Filippo Lippi (1406 – 1469). By 1470, Botticelli started his own studio, painting in a style influenced by the Quattrocento master, Masaccio (1401 – 1428), with the influence of Lippi’s more intimate and detailed manner.
Botticelli’s Primavera was painted under Medici commission, a work depicting classical gods almost naked and life-size and a complex philosophical symbolism requiring deep knowledge of Renaissance literature to interpret. It is also thought that Botticelli’s, Birth of Venice was painted under Medici Commission shortly after, is also a work that can be deeply interpreted, and along with Primavera has influenced not only art, but are referenced throughout popular culture frequently. Another piece in the Uffizi’s Botticelli room commissioned by the Medici is Pallas and the Centaur, from 1482. This painting marked the end of Botticelli's Medici period and from this point on his subject-matter becomes increasingly religious. Of these religious works in the Uffizi is, Madonna of the Magnificat, in which the baby Christ holds a Pomegranate fruit, being a symbol of the resurrection. It is said that Botticelli portrayed the family of Piero de’Medici, son of Cosimo and father of Lorenzo the Magnificent, as the holy family in the painting. This piece was painted in 1487 for the Audience Hall of the Massai di Camera in the Palazzo Vecchio. He also painted portraits of the Medici family within his piece from the Church of Santa Maria Novella from 1475, Adoration of the Magi, and also in the Sant’Ambrogio altarpiece, Madonna and Child with Six Saints, from 1470.
In Botticelli’s later work, Madonna of the Pomegranate, also in the Uffizi, it is the Virgin Mary who holds the Pomegranate, also painted in 1487. Also in the Uffizi Botticelli Room are the works, Madonna and Child, from his earlier period under Lippi, as well as his Madonna of a Rosegerden, the Coronation of the Virgin altarpiece from the church of San Marco and the Cestello Annunciation, from 1489. There is also his works inspired by admiration for the religious reformer, Savonarola (1452 – 1498), Saint Augustine in His Study. Other works in the Uffizi Botticelli Room are Fortitude from 1470, Discovery of the Body of Holophernes from 1470, Calumny of Apelles from 1495, The Return of Judith, and Portrait of a Young Man with a Medal, which may be a portrait of his brother Antonio or a Self-Portrait, along with Cosimo de’Medici depicted in the Medal.
(Some of this text has been adapted from the www.wikipedia.org entry on Sandro Botticelli, available under GNU Free Documentation license.)