Successful artist, sensitive interpreter of the culture of his time and author of extraordinarily relevant works, Sandro Botticelli was a master of beauty. With his “Venuses,” he unknowingly established a canon of perfection that closely reflects that of modern day. Yet, he was a mysterious and disquieted figure: despite his timeless reputation, his paintings still hide mysteries that are difficult to unveil. After sixty years, Sandro Botticelli returns to the Menarini Group art series with an unpublished monograph presented in Florence at the Apollo Room in Palazzo Pucci in the presence of author Cristina Acidini, former superintendent of the art museums of Florence and today, president of the Opera di Santa Croce and other prestigious Florentine institutions.
The monograph takes us back to Florence in the second half of the fifteenth century, to the dyeing plant of Mariano Filipepi, Botticelli's father. It was there that the young Sandro, fascinated by the colours used in the family’s workshop, first came into contact with the study of the arts. The few available sources who knew him presented the artist as a man inclined to irony, sarcasm and mockery, in the full Florentine spirit of the time. His soul was tormented by a restless temperament; he categorically refused to marry but declared an eternal love for Florence, a city he never abandoned, with the exception of a few short trips. With the acute sensitivity of human being and artist, he recorded the changes happening in his city, from the carnivalesque triumphs of Lorenzo de’ Medici to the penitential processions of Savonarola. As an artist, he had the unique ability to adapt to the changes of his era, painting tormented figures with darker colours, such as the Lamentation over the Dead Christ and the Holy Trinity (Pala delle Convertite), a far cry from the harmony and grace of the Birth of Venus and Primavera (Spring). These two latter works, with their innumerable variations and reinventions, helped render Botticelli an extremely popular artist whose relevance resonates as a subject of modern study even today.
Thus, there are many controversies regarding the chronology and interpretation of many of Botticelli’s paintings, including the most famous ones. In fact, restorations and sophisticated diagnostic investigations constantly bring new elements to the surface which generate ideas for debate among specialists in the sector.
“This extraordinary artist returns to the Menarini series with a second monograph which takes into account the innovations that have emerged over the past sixty years, thanks to the discovery of new documents and their interpretations, especially regarding his most evocative and mysterious paintings. Furthermore, the scientific investigations coinciding with the restoration of many of Botticelli’s works have enriched our knowledge of his refined and versatile painting style,” declared Cristina Acidini. “Botticelli was, in fact, among the most authentic interpreters of the culture of his era, reflecting the profound changes in the Florentine society where he lived, dominated first by Lorenzo the Magnificent in a period of happy cultural flourishing, then by Girolamo Savonarola during years of disturbed religious reformism. For this reason, he has become the “symbol” of the Renaissance, with all its splendour and its inquietude.”
The art volume on Botticelli enriches Menarini Group’s prestigious art series, created in 1956 to celebrate the beauty of Italy through the great masters of Italian painting.
“The Menarini art collection aims to promote great Italian artists and share them with even the youngest generation,” say Lucia and Alberto Giovanni Aleotti, shareholders and members of the Board of Menarini. “Discovering the inquietude and the wonder behind Botticelli’s most notable paintings demonstrates how very close the artist was to today’s contemporary sentiment."
Over the years, the artistic vocation of the Menarini Group has grown and evolved with the multimedia project ‘Menarini Pills of Art’. These are short video clips in which experts reveal anecdotes and curiosities about many of the works featured in the Menarini volumes. Around 700 videos have been published so far, for a total of tens of millions of views. These are available on the Menarini YouTube channel in 8 languages which is updated monthly with new content. Videos on some of Botticelli’s most famous works have recently been published together with videos on Leonardo’s Adoration of the Magi, Mantegna’s Madonna delle Cave and Caravaggio’s Bacchus.