post-title portfolio-title Sandro Botticelli – Madonna with Child no no

Sandro Botticelli – Madonna with Child

Artist

Sandro Botticelli was born on March 1, 1445 in Florence; he also died and was buried May 17, 1510. The shortened form “Sandro” derives from Alessandro. Apparently the name Botticelli was a nickname. His brother referred to him as “Flaesschen”. Botticelli’s birth name is Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi. At the age of 19 Botticelli became the student of the famous artist Fra Filippo Lippi in Prato/Tuscany. He opened up his own studio at the age of 25. Being under the wing of the Medici family, Botticelli was not only supported by them but he also received political protection through continuous assignments. Among others, Sandro Batticelli decorated the newly constructed Sistine Chapel in Rome with mural paintings in 1481/82. After the death of one of his sponsors, Lorenco de Medici, Botticelli dedicated his attention to religious issues. The 94 feather drawings for the illustration of “the Divine Comedy by Dante Aligheri” are very well known. Botticelli is said to be one of the most well-known painters of the early Renaissance. He was famous for his portraits, allegories and his religious motifs.

Artwork

Madonna with the child and the singing angels or also Madonna with lilies and eight angels was created in 1477. It was designed in the form of a circle and measures 135cm diagonally.

Brief description

In the centre of the piece the Virgin Mary is enthroned holding her infant Jesus. Her gaze wanders, from the spectator’s point of view, to the right into blankness. The child in her arms has his eyes fixed on the viewer of the image. Incidentally Jesus plays with the delicate veil of his mother. The blue of her cloak and the red of her dress draw Mary together with the Nimbus above her head as our blessed mother. Unswervingly above her head, the sky opens and two joint hands engrave the jewelled golden crown in a crowned gesture. On the right and left, the Madonna is joined by eight angels, four on each side. On the right of the Madonna the angels are singing, on the left they are silent. All of them are holding a white lily. However, only six of eight flower heads can be seen.

Gerne & Material

Renaissance painting, painted in tempera on poplar wood.

Where can I find this in Berlin?

In the Gemaeldegalerie at the Kulturforum Potsdamerplatz, Matthaeikirchplatz, 10785 Berlin. To find out how to get there, please click the link below the descriptive text.

Thanks to Count Atanasius Raczynski one is able to marvel at “Madonna with Child” and eight singing angels by Sandro Botticelli in Berlin. In 1824 he bought the art piece for 2500 francs (for his collection in his art gallery at his palace). A not so well known fact is that his palace was situated in the location of today’s Berliner Reichstag.

In the centre of the piece the Virgin Mary is enthroned holding her infant Jesus. Her gaze wanders, from the spectator’s point of view, to the right into blankness. The child in her arms has his eyes fixed on the viewer of the image. Incidentally Jesus plays with the delicate veil of his mother. The blue of her cloak and the red of her dress draw Mary together with the Nimbus above her head as our blessed mother. Unswervingly above her head, the sky opens and two joint hands engrave the jewelled golden crown in a crowned gesture. On the right and left, the Madonna is joined by eight angels, four on each side. On the right of the Madonna the angels are singing, on the left they are silent. All of them are holding a white lily. However, only six of eight flower heads can be seen. The eight is, according to the Christian symbolism of numbers, a sacred number. “In the Christian number symbolism of the Middle Ages, eight is the number of the happy beginnings, of spiritual rebirth, it is also the number of baptism and resurrection, symbol of the new covenant and symbol of good fortune” (wiki). The eight also stands for a new beginning on the 8th day of the resurrection and baptism. The six in turn represents the number of days in which God created the world according to the Christian doctrine, while the lily symbolizes virginity and purity but also the trinity and the patronage of the Mother of God. In the Middle Ages, the number four represented earthly things. It manifests itself in the four elements, the four seasons and the four temperaments – as opposed to three, the divine trinity. The four stands for the cross, thus for death and suffering. It might be no coincidence that Botticelli has painted this picture in a circle – the symbol of perfection and infinity.

In 1954 the Federal Government and the states of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Bavaria, Berlin Bremen, Hamburg, Hesse, Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia and Rhineland-Palatinate bought the piece from heir Count Raczynski Athanasius.

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