Botticelli Masterpiece Debuts in the U.S.
Williamsburg exhibition presents Venus and other mythologies and portraits
In a major international loan exhibition in partnership with Italy’s Associazione Culturale Metamorfosi, Williamsburg’s Muscarelle Museum of Art at William & Mary presents “Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting between the Medici and the Bonfires of the Vanities.”
Florentine artist Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510), contemporary and friend of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, was one of the most original and creative painters of the Italian Renaissance. He’s known for his religious images and classical mythologies.
The artist’s success was guided by Lorenzo de’ Medici, Il Magnifico. Inspired by the Medici passions for ancient Greece and the Romans, Botticelli created works such as the Birth of Venus and the Allegory of Spring, some of the best-known images of the Renaissance.
Many of Botticelli’s works were destroyed in the notorious Bonfires of the Vanities in Florence, led by Dominican friar and puritan fanatic Fra Savonarola, on Fat Tuesday (Mardis Gras) of 1497 and 1498.
The highlight of the exhibition is a painting of Venus, replicated by Botticelli from his iconic Birth of Venus to display only the solitary figure. This painting and several others in the exhibition have never before traveled to the United States.
The genius of Sandro Botticelli will be explored in the exhibition of 16 of his paintings from major museums and churches in six Italian cities, representing each phase of his career.
Other exhibition items that represent the tenor of the times are six rare paintings by Botticelli’s master, Filippo Lippi; paintings by Filippino Lippi; works by Antonio Pollaiuolo; the death mask of Lorenzo the Magnificent; and a portrait of Savonarola by Fra Bartolomeo.
The Botticelli exhibition runs Feb. 11-April 6. The museum is located on the campus of William & Mary at 603 Jamestown Road in Williamsburg.