Botticelli, Mythology, and the Medici

Hi everyone! This week I’ve been contemplating on who to talk about, and my mind keeps going back to Botticelli. I’ve previously done a post on him, but I wanted to talk about him again since he’s just such an amazing artist.

To recap on what I said in the last post, Sandro Botticelli, full name Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, was an artist in Italy during the Renaissance era. The name Botticelli originated as a nickname for “small wine cask” ( His work was primarily focused on religion and mythology; in some cases, he even combined some of the topics and themes into one painting.

Botticelli has a very distinctive style in his artworks. It’s hard to explain the exact style in words, but when you see his artwork, it’s easy to know that it’s his. He has a soft quality to his figures; he strives for idealism.

A small matter of his life that I wanted to bring up (which are essential to his paintings) is that he worked for the Medici family. The Medici family were a prominent family in the Renaissance and Baroque, that were extremely influential on the art world in Italy. Botticelli originally worked for the painter Fra Filippo Lippi, who was the house painter of the Medici family for Cosimo de’Medici. Botticelli befriend both Lorenzo and Giuliano de’Medici (both grandsons of Cosimo), and they became good companions. A large influence for Botticelli in his subjects matter in artworks most likely came from the Medici. Lorenzo and Giuliano were humanist, that is that they strove to study multiple subject matters and the ancient arts. Since Botticelli hung out with Lorenzo and Giuliano, he could have been influenced by this scholarly atmosphere of the Medici.

One painting that I wanted to talk about is the Venus and Mars created in 1485.


In this painting, we are presented with Venus, the goddess of love, and Mars, the god of war. They are surrounded by baby satyrs. They are all harmoniously relaxing in a beautiful area. It appears that Mars is relaxing or napping, and Venus is gracefully gracing upon him. It looks like two satyrs are trying to wake Mars up with a shell horn.

In my, very biased, opinion, the best part about this painting is that the two main figures are potential portraits of two Renaissance people. As I mentioned earlier, Lorenzo, Giuliano, and Sandro were good friends. Therefore, Sandro may have used Giuliano as his model for Mars here.


Botticelli, Giuliano de’Medici, 1478

A side note that I would like to include about Giuliano is his sad death. He was brutally murdered on Sunday April 26th of 1478 when he was in church. He and Lorenzo went to mass in the Duomo of Firenze/Santa Maria del Fiore, and their enemies stabbed him 19 times in the church. SUCH A CRAZY STORY. But there is a problem with this, since Giuliano was killed in 1478 and Botticelli’s painting was completed in 1485. A possibility for this may have be that Botticelli might have started to create this piece before the death of Giuliano, or Botticelli may have been making a reference to his dear friend.

Another individual Botticelli was definitely influenced by was Simonetta Vespucci. Botticelli was obsessed with the beauty of this women, and many of his paintings are models after her.


I just wanted to point out another element of this. It is so nice to see portraits of people throughout history. It creates such a connection to the past. It’s a great combination of art and history, where people get to see these figures, even if the portraits are modified. We should all bring back portraiture paintings rather than just having selfies.

Lastly, I think most fans of art will agree with me that we have at least one artist that truly touches our soul – for me, it is Botticelli (and Raphael).

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