Decoding the Myths of Mythology With Paintings by Botticelli

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Aren’t the paintings that revolve around the Renaissance period with mythological figures, cupids, angels, etc. as their subjects just fascinating?

One of the most prominent paintings of Jesus which also featured Madonna made sure to grab almost every art enthusiast’s attention.

Want to know who was the man behind the  most extravagant creations of the 14th and the 15th century?

He was none other than Sandro Botticelli! Even though his real name wasn’t Sandro, he was widely known by this name.

Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, famously known as Sandro Botticelli was one of the most celebrated Italian artists who mastered the art of Renaissance.

His unique style made him stand out in the crowd of artists across Europe and America.  

The paintings by Botticelli were based on the biblical period and were highly praised by the people of the art community.

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He was not only a skilled painter but was a draughtsman who hailed from Florence and he practically spent his whole life there.

 Well, except for the two occasions when he got to visit Pisa, Italy and Sistine Chapel, Vatican City between 1474-1482. 

As a matter of fact he went overseas for work only twice in his lifetime.

Now, let’s take a look at his creation and judge for yourself what the hype was all about!

Suggested Read: Famous Renaissance Artists

Madonna of the Book

A famous painting by Botticelli named Madonna of the book.
Image Source: wikipedia

A lady sitting in serenity with a child in her hand and is preaching him lessons out of a book?

Well, this is what is depicted in ‘Madonna of the Book’.

This famous painting by Botticelli dates between 1480 and 1481, and it is considered one of Botticelli’s finest depictions of the Virgin Mary and Child.

This artwork is called Madonna of the Book or Madonna del Libro. 

The book depicted in the painting is believed to be the Book of Hours and it is held with grace by Virgin Mary.

As usual, Botticelli has portrayed Madonna to be a thinker who is focused on the child’s teaching as well as in her own thoughts.

Also, Botticelli has portrayed the essence of elegance and sensitivity in the painting whilst Mary is holding the child.

The Child can be seen with a crown of thorns and three nails that hint at the young Jesus’s journey.

It is highly believed that the young boy was on his way to follow the path of Christianity which supposingly Mary was preaching to him.

One can also see a basket of ripe fruits in the background which also depicted Botticelli’s skills as a still life artist.

The subjects of the painting, Mary and her child can be seen gazing at each other in serenity.

This painting by Sandro Botticelli is safely housed in Museo Poldi Pezzoli, Milan, Italy.

Suggested Read: The Last Supper Painting


Annunciation is a painting by Botticelli.
Image Source: wikipedia

This is a painting which is one of the most famous paintings of Jesus as it is considered to be the moment of incarnation of Jesus.

This is the most believed painting in the New Testament as it depicts the actual incarnation of the Child of the God, Jesus!

Even though it is a small sized, 30 cm wide painting, it is enough to recite the tale of the incarnation of a legendary figure.

It is a biblical depiction of the time when Angel Gabriel visited Virgin Mary in her private quarter.

Angel Gabriel can be seen blessing Mary and she then told her that she is soon going to conceive the young Christ.

This masterpiece has inspired a lot of artists across the globe.

Mary is shown as a figure who can always be seen studying scriptures and also, she is an intelligent persona.

As the angel announced that Mary is going to conceive the young Christ, in that moment Mary bows down with a hand on her chest and seeks blessings from the angel.

There are a lot of features in the painting in which Botticelli has used Symbolism and has also depicted 15th century Italian architecture.

This painting by Botticelli was based on a biblical tale and the way he has portrayed the characters is very intriguing. 

This masterpiece is safely placed alongside some famous paintings by Botticelli in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.

The Tragedy of Lucretia

The story of Lucretia is a painting by Botticelli
Image Source: medium

This painting by Botticelli might look like a scene of a battlefield, but it actually is a scene with a heinous backstory.

This painting depicts the murder of Lucretia who was a Roman noblewoman.

In this Botticelli’s painting he has used three different incidents and has compiled them in one frame.

This also depicts the legendary revolution which gave birth to the Roman republic. 

When we closely observe this painting we can see that Sandro Botticelli has portrayed in sections about what exactly happened with Lucretia!

The painting is divided into three sections from left to right corner.

Then in the rightmost corner we can see that after Lucretia has been raped she came out and gathered everyone including her husband.

She revealed that she has been raped by Sextus and she proceeded to stab herself to death.

Just after Lucretia killed herself, Lucius Junius Brutus who was considered to be the co-founder of the Roman republic decided to fight against the Tranquiniis. 

That brings our attention to the center of the painting in which we can see an army of young men waving swords as a sign of battle.

The statue of Lucretia is also placed in the center as she is portrayed as a symbol of bravery in the painting.

Brutus successfully established the Roman Republic after the fight and that’s when he took an oath that he won’t ever let anyone else rule. 

This painting by Botticelli is in the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, Boston.

St. Sebastian

St. Sebastian is a painting  by Botticelli
Image source: wikipedia

This painting by Botticelli was his first male nude painting which he completed in the year 1474.

This painting was put up following a grand ceremony at the pillars in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore, Florence on 20th January.

20th January is the feast day of the saint and the painting depicts the medieval times when the Saint was tied up on a pillar.

The backstory to this Botticelli’s painting is that the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered his archers to aim at St. Sebastian due to his beliefs in Christianity.

He was tied to a pillar and more than hundred arrows were shot at him which led to his death.

It is also believed that the arrows which were shot at St. Sebastain were the arrows of plague that the saint survived just so that he can save the upcoming mankind.

That is the reason when in the middle of 15th century Florence was Plague-struck then many churches and chapels chose St. Sebastian as their almighty patron saint.

They decorated the pillars of the churches with his paintings.

This painting by Botticelli is made on a long form background but the foreshortening of the Saint’s feet depicts that the painting is from Botticelli’s early phase.

This art by Botticelli is safely housed in the Staatliche Museen of Berlin.

La Primavera

A famous painting by Botticelli named La Primavera
Image Source: wikipedia

This painting by Botticelli which is named ‘La Primavera’ which literally means spring season in Italian.

He completed this artwork in 1482 and is one of the famous artworks by Botticelli.

He has used various subjects in this painting along with a lot of lush greenery which represents the season of Spring!

Some people believe that this artwork was commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, one of the members of the Medici family.

He got married in the year 1482, that is why people speculate that he could’ve commissioned it.

This painting features a group of various mythological figures, such as the Roman god Mercury, cupid, Three Graces, the god of wind-Zephyrus, etc.

This composition also includes the goddess of love, Venus who can be seen standing in the center while holding her red robe and giving a peaceful view.

Also, Botticelli has painted more than 190 botanical species in the grass out of them only 130 are identified. 

This masterpiece by Sandro Botticelli can be viewed in the collection of the Uffizi Gallery, in Florence.

Calumny of Apelles

Painting by Botticelli named Calumny of Apelles.
Image Source: wikiart

What can ruining someone else’s reputation for your benefit lead to?

Well, this is what the Calumny of Apelles depicts. This painting by Botticelli was painted in 1494 and has a deeper meaning along with it.

Botticelli made this painting in the late 14th century by considering the description of a lost painting by Apelles, who was a Greek painter from the 4th century BC.

This painting has a mesmerizing effect on people across the globe and its message is something which makes an impact.

When we talk about the subjects used in this painting by Botticelli then in the center we can see a man who is being dragged to King Midas.

King Midas is sitting on his throne and he is guided by Ignorance and Suspicion, who can be seen whispering in his ears, probably the decision he is about to make.

Slander is dragged by his hair by Calumny wearing a blue and white outfit.

She is followed by Perfidy and Fraud who can be seen rushing and fixing her hair.

Rancor, the envy is holding her hand and reaching out to the king.

An old lady covered in black remorse clothing can be seen standing in the corner looking at the sky.

Next to the old woman a young lady can be seen standing naked while pointing towards the sky.

As per Botticelli, he drew the naked lady as he wanted to make us believe that when a person approaches their fate then there is nothing to hide.

Amid a lot of things happening, King Midas can be seen not paying attention to the situation.

This painting by Botticelli can be viewed at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Suggested Read: Guernica by Pablo Picasso

The Birth of Venus

The Birth of Venus is a painting by Botticelli.
Image Source: medium

This painting by Botticelli is one of the most famous mythological paintings from the era of Early Renaissance.

The Birth of Venus was created sometime in between 1484 to 1486 on a wooden panel. 

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It is believed that this artwork was commissioned by Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de Medici, the cousin of Lorenzo the Magnificent, or Lorenzo il Magnifico.

Botticelli’s painting has bridged the gap between emerging humanism and Gothic art.

This painting by Botticelli revolves around the concept of free will and Venus is the Goddess of love and beauty.

Botticelli has portrayed her as a mythological subject which appeared on the shore of Cyprus drifting on a shell.

The almost naked goddess of love, Venus can be seen with a slightly tilted gaze and is staring in a distance.

This composition depicts the re-birth of civilization, a new hope and a cultural shift which can be seen in the painting.

In this painting, to the far left we can see the God of Wind Zephyr along with her peer Aura who is believed to be a light breezer. 

They both can be seen blowing wind towards Venus.

On the other hand we can see a lady carrying a floral cloak in her hand to welcome the goddess at the seashore. 

The female figure is believed to be the Greek goddess of seasons.

This painting is safely housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Adoration of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi is a famous painting by Sandro Botticelli.
Image Source: wikipedia

This painting by Botticelli represents a biblical tale of the three wise men or the three wise kings who  came to visit Jesus Christ on his birth.

Sandro Botticelli curated this artwork in 1475 and it was commissioned for the altar in Gaspare di Zanobi del Lama’s chapel in Santa Maria Novella.

Gaspare di Zanobi del Lama was a Florentine banker and a financial broker who was a son of a barber and hailed from a small town near Florence.

And they not just visited to worship the newborn Christ but they also bought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. 

This artwork by Botticelli has a deep religious meaning as it is taken from one of the most important stories of  the Bible.

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The center of the painting represents Virgin Mary and Young Christ sitting in her lap.

If the painting is viewed from a religious perspective it depicts the humbleness and the sincerity of the three kings which are paying homage to the Holy bodies.

While from a social perspective this painting by Botticelli represents the people of Florence who are standing there in unity.

In this painting we can also see the self portrait of Sandro Botticelli who is standing in the corner of the frame.

In this painting the members of the Medici family can be seen as well.

It is believed that the time this painting went live to the Chapel the members were dead.

Along with the famous paintings by Botticelli this painting can be seen in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

The Story of Nastagio Degli Onesti, Part I

The story of Nastagio Degli Onesti, part-I  by Sandro Botticelli
Image Source: wikidata

If you think about the consequences of rejecting a lover, then take a look at this painting by Botticelli.

This painting depicts a terrific tale of what happened when a young lady rejected her lover.

This is one of the paintings from the series of four paintings by Botticelli which he painted for Lorenzo the Magnificent in the year 1483 to gift his fiance, Giannozzo Pucci. 

This painting is based on the tale of Nastagio Degli Onesti who was a nobleman from Ravenna. 

His story is also covered by one of the famous authors of that time, Giovanni Boccaccio.

The story of Nastagio is mentioned in the eighth tale from the fifth day in Giovanni’s book The Decameron.

Botticelli’s selection of themes for this particular series of paintings was to portray a happy ending for love.

The plot is based on how the daughter of Paolo Traversari, who was asked out by Nastagio, agreed to marry him.

And the reason behind why she agreed was because she witnessed the cruel punishment which Nastagio gave to another woman who rejected his proposal.

As a viewer you can see an angry Nastagio riding on a horse with a sword in his hand and a face full of rage.

In front of Nastagio, a naked woman can be seen running in the wilderness, with a dog running behind her and biting her.

When this painting was made live in the Gallery of Pucci then it received mixed reviews from the viewers.

The painting exhibits in the Museo National del Prado in Madrid, Spain.

Allegory of Fortitude

Allegory of Fortitude by Sandro Botticelli.
Image Source: arthive

This is one of the famous paintings by Botticelli in the series of paintings which were dedicated specifically to Virtues.

It was commissioned by Piero del Pollaiolo in the year 1469 and he completed this in the year 1470.

It was Botticelli’s first recorded masterpiece and the woman who is depicted as Fortitude in this painting is believed to be Lucrezia Donati.

Lucrezia was an Italian noblewoman and also supposingly Lorenzo de’ Medici’s mistress.

Fortitude can be seen sporting armor over a graceful dress and a red robe can also be seen draped around her body.

She is holding the ruler’s wand in her hand. She is one of the main virtues, basically the human virtue.

Even though Fortitude was seen sitting on the ruler’s throne, yet her expressions say something else.

Her gaze is facing down and her lips are somewhat puckered, which signifies that she is tired of the responsibilities.

Botticelli painted her as she was considered as a role model and was seen as a symbol of strength.

Her armor over the body signifies that her masculine powers are aligned with femininity. 

Botticelli has also paid attention to the smallest details such as her under eye bags that have turned pale and her expressions which are a bit confusing at the first glance. 

This painting is now located in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

The Mystical Nativity

The Mystical Nativity is a painting by Botticelli
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This painting by Botticelli is a symbol of re-incarnation of Christ, and it depicts joy and celebration during that time.

To your surprise it is the only signed artwork by master of Renaissance, Sandro Botticelli.

He was known for his creations which revolved around mythological subjects and incidents.

Botticelli completed this picture in the year 1501, and this particular artwork reads that you can find Botticelli buried soon.

In this painting, Virgin Mary, Joseph and young Christ can be seen in the center and are drawn larger than the other subjects of the painting.

Virgin Mary can be seen kneeling forward to either lift or to bless the young Christ.

Joseph on the side can be seen sitting and it is believed that he is taking a nap.

Twelve angels can be seen in the sky dancing and in joyous mode. They are believed to be the angels of hope, faith and charity.

A lot of other subjects can be seen in this painting by Botticelli, such as, devils, angels, ox, etc.

The re-incarnation of Christ is believed to end the period of upheaval and it also signifies that the devils would soon be punished and buried.

In this painting the sheet or cloth on which Christ is laying down is believed to be the same cloth in which he was wrapped up after his death.

This artwork by Botticelli is housed in the National Gallery in London.

Suggested Read: 15 Famous Renaissance Artists

Mars & Venus

Mars and Venus is a famous painting by Botticelli
Image Source: arthive

The Florentine Renaissance master Botticelli created this painting to celebrate the wedding of Mars and Venus.

He completed this panel artwork in the year 1485 and has used sharp techniques to effectively make the subjects stand out in the painting.

The young couple can be seen relaxing in the wilderness where they are covered with lush green trees.

In the background we can easily see the sea from which Venus originated.

They both are laying down in an explicit position where the god of war, Mars is almost naked and is sleeping.

Whereas, the goddess of love, Venus can be seen laying down and staring at Venus.

It is believed that they had made love after their marriage and that’s when Mars fell asleep and the couple were guarded by Satyrs.

Two of the Satyrs can be seen playing with Mars’ weapon and the third Satyr is sleeping in the conch and shell.

Another Satyr was trying to get into Mars’ breastplate and they were trying to wake Mars, but they failed at it.

It is believed that Botticelli’s message was that love will take over war, and that’s what he portrayed in this painting.

The youngest member of the Medici family, Giuliano di Piero de Medici has modeled for Mars. 

 This painting by Botticelli is housed safely in the National Gallery, London.

Suggested Read: Harlem Renaissance


This was all about the paintings by Botticelli, where he  depicted his mastery in the Renaissance paintings of the 14th century.

I am pretty sure that you must have loved the artwork by Botticelli! Do you wish to own one of his paintings?

So, don’t you worry…

You can have one remade just for you by our professional artists, who have worked hard and effortlessly to pace up their skills to match the painting style of Botticelli.

Author’s Note

Thank you for reading this article about the famous paintings by Botticelli. 

I have tried to compile the incidents and information that revolve around the paintings and life of Sandro Botticelli.

I’ll be glad if you guys will leave your valuable comments down below.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Ans. Most of the paintings by Botticelli rose to fame as they depicted biblical stories, but the most-known artwork by Sandro Botticelli is “The Birth of Venus.”

Ans. Sandro Botticelli created many paintings, but only 137 exist now, out of which most are safely housed in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, Italy.

Ans. Sandro Botticelli was inspired by Lorenzi de’ Medici, Filippo Lippi, Dante Alighieri, and Ovid.

Ans. The characteristics that can be prominently identified in Botticelli’s artworks are calm compositions, elegance, and the spiritual connections of the subjects.

Ans. Sandro Botticelli’s last artwork is to be known as “The Mystical Nativity,” which he signed in the years 1500 to 1501.

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