Botticelli was born in 1445 in Florence, where he studied with Filippo Lippi with whom he painted the frescoes of Prato cathedral. He painted many versions of Madonna and Child, which have very similar style to Filippo Lippi, even though after meeting Andrea del Verrocchio and Antonio Pollaiolo he changed his artistic views. In the 1460s’ he began to work independently and attended the Neoplatonic academy, which put him in contact with Agnolo Poliziano, Marsilio Ficino and the Medici family. He became soon one of the favorites of Lorenzo the Magnificent and brother Giuliano, who commissioned a portrait of himself in 1478. Botticelli became a faithful interpret of the modern Florentine society and culture and his elegant and sophisticated paintings represented the ideal neoplatonic and harmonic beauty of the time. His graceful Madonnas, elegant portraits of the women loved by the Medici family and praised by the literature of the time, charismatic mythological and biblical characters are still today a symbol of the first Florentine renaissance. In this golden era Botticelli illustrated the Divine Comedy commented by Cristoforo Landino and painted the frescoes Temptations of Christ (1481) in the Sistine Chapel in Rome. In Florence he painted religious subjects, the Venuses, the Primavera and mythological themes like Pallas and the Centaur, Venus and Mars, which often hide complex allegories with philosophical meanings.
The death of Lorenzo the Magnificent in 1492 and the expulsion of the Medici family after the conflict with Savonarola and Piagnoni influenced Botticelli’s life. His art was marked by earthly beauty and spiritual purity and in his later career he abandoned pagan myths and concentrated on religious art.
Botticelli died in Florence in 1510.