Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi) (c. 1445-1510)
and Mythological Iconography
Botticelli, Artchive

(Fra) Filippo Lippi, Artchive

Boticelli's Annunciation, MMA

Boticelli's Timeline, MMA

Filippino Lippi (son of Filippo), MMA

Goddess: Costume Institute at The MMA

Greek Gods and Religious Practices, MMA

Key Aspects of (Classical) Life, MMA

Works of Greek and Roman Art, MMA

Theoi (Gods).com

Historical Development of Iconography

La Primavera (The Birth of Spring), c. 1482, Sandro Botticelli (Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi) c. 1445-1510)

His nickname "Botticelli" means "little barrel" and may have been passed on to him from a nickname originally bestowed on his older brother (or from the goldsmith Botticelli studied with). The painter also an engraver named Antonio del Pollaiuolo - and this may be where Botticelli first forged his relationship with line.

Botticelli opens his own workshop in 1470 and is later given free reign my Lorenzo de Medici to create as he wishes. The artist is interested in Christian Neoplatonism, a popular concern at the time, as this belief system tends to reconcile pagan and Christian imagery. This interest naturally inspires Botticelli to explore the possibilities in his native language of paint. Botticelli brings Venus back, and she is as unbridled as his imagination. She is the representation of life, beauty, sex, and fertility.

Botticelli's subject matter is unprecedented outside of the ancient world.
















Detail of above.
















The Birth of Venus, Botticelli, c. 1485.
















Detail of above.
















Venus Pudica - the ancient sculpture Botticelli's Venus is (and other early Renaissance figures are) based upon.
















Masaccio's Expulsion (discussed in first lecture).
















Venus and Mars, Botticelli, 1485.
















Madonna and Child, Fra Filippo Lippi (Botticelli's teacher), c. 1430.
Botticelli would teach the son of Filippo Lippi - Filippino Lippi (see links above).
















Madonna and her iconographical predecessor Venus, Filippo Lippi, 1440-1445.
















Adoration of the Magi Botticelli, c. 1475.
















Detail of above - Botticelli's self-portrait.
















The Annunciation, Botticelli, c. 1485.
















Danae Receiving the Shower of Golden Rain (Zeus), Mabuse, 1527.
















The Annunciation, Titian, 1559-62.
















Danae, Gustav Klimt, 1907.
















Saturn Devouring One of His Sons, Peter Paul Rubens, 1636.

Speaking of Zeus - he saves his siblings from his father and becomes king of the gods and the figure around which all Greek (and later Etruscan and Roman) mythology will revolve.
















Zeus with his main attribute - the lightning bolt. Red-figure vase detail.
















Jupiter (the Roman Zeus) and Thetis, Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres, 1811. (Thetis was the mother of Achilles)
















The Birth of Athena. Detail from black-figure vase painting.
















Birth of Athena, The Phrynos Painter, c. 570-560 BCE.
















Athena fully armed. Detail of a vase painting attributed to The Kleophrades Painter, c. 505-475 BCE.
Kleophrades always painted the goddess with Pegasus as a shield device.
















Athena and Poseidon, The Amasis Painter, c. 530 BCE
















Pasiphae and her son the Minotaur. Detail from a red-figure vase.
















Athena and Arachne, detail, Tintoretto, 1543-1544.
















Arachne or Dialectics, Veronese, 1575-1577.
















Mercury and Minerva, Bartholomeus Spranger, c. 1585.
















Jupiter, Mercury, and Virtue, Dosso Dossi, 1523-1524.
















Hermes and the Infant Dionysos, Praxiteles, 343 BCE.
















St. Anthony, (unknown), 20th Century.
















Birth of Bacchus, Giulio Romano and workshop, c. 1530.
















Bacchus, Michelangelo, 1496-1498.
















Ariadne, John Waterhouse, 1898.
















Apollo and Daphne, Bernini, 1622-25.
















Clytie, Filippo Parodi, c. 1680s.
















Apollo, Antonio Pellegrini, c. 1718.
















Narcissus, Caravaggio, 1598-99.
















Clytie, Frederick Leighton, 1895-96.
















The Death of Sarpedon, Euphronios, c. 510 BCE.
















Hypnos and Thanatos, John Waterhouse, 1874.
















Herakles and Cerberus, c. 500 BCE
















Herakles wrestling the Nemean lion. Detail from a vase painted by The Kleophrades Painter.
















Commodus as Hercules, 2nd Century CE
















The Forge of Vulcan, Diego Velazquez, 1630.
















The Education of Cupid, Correggio, c. 1525.
















Cupid Complaining to Venus, Lucas Cranach the Elder, c. 1529.
















Venus of Urbino, Titian, 1538.



















Olympia, Edouard Manet, 1863.



















Venus and Adonis, Bartholomeus Spranger, c. 1597.
















Venus and Cupid, Lambert Sustris, c. 1560.
















Demeter - earth goddess and mother of Persephone.
















Proserpine, Dante Rossetti, 1874.
















Pluto and Persephone. Detail from a red-figure cup, c. 430 BCE.
















The Rape of Proserpina, Gian Lorenzo Bernini, 1621-22.
















Persephone, Thomas Hart Benton, 1938.
















The Head of Medusa, by Peter Paul Rubens, c. 1617.
















Archaic Medusa - architectural frieze, c. 580 BCE.
















Archaic Medusa - architectural frieze, c. 580-550 BCE.
















Medusa Rondanini, Roman copy of a Greek original, c. 4th century BCE.



















Medusa, Caravaggio, 1598-99.
















Perseus with the Head of Medusa, by Antonio Canova, c. 1800
















Armored Pegasus, Joe Leonard, recent.
It was commissioned as a Christmas gift for an Ohio client's wife.
















Medusa from Clash of the Titans, 1981.
















The "fair-cheeked" Medusa, Polygnotos, c. 450-440 BCE. MMA: JSTOR article.
















Oedipus and the Sphinx. Detail from a red-figure vase.
















Oedipus and the Sphinx. Jean-Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1808.
















Oedipus and the Sphinx, by Gustave Moreau, 1864. (MMA)


For further readings on myth, see Bulfinch's Mythology.

For further readings on iconography in this period especially, see Erwin Panofsky's Studies in Iconology.

Pandora's box: The Changing Aspects of a Mythical SymbolBy Dora Panofsky, Dora Mosse Panofsky, Erwin Panofsky.