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Botticelli, itinerary of a child prodigy: in the shadow of the Medici


WEBSERIES 3/9 - Le Figaro Hors-Série devotes an exceptional number to the painter of Spring. Sandro has made a place for himself with the Medici. At thirty, he was the new Apelles of the Platonic Academy in Florence.

Here they are all kneeling.

If the faces express reverence, the smallest piece of fabric speaks volumes about luxury, refinement, pomp.

There is old Cosimo, at the feet of the Child, in his black cloak all embroidered with gilding.

Then his two sons, in the center, conversing softly, Pierre, dressed in scarlet, and Jean, in white and gold.

There is Laurent, a little behind, who is standing draped in blue, with a haughty posture, an imperious profile.

On the other side, in red and black, his brother Julien has his eyes closed.

He is handsome, thoughtful, as if in prayer.

Read also In the workshop of the exquisite Botticelli

Under the costume of the Magi, Botticelli painted the portrait of three generations of Medici. To each one, he gave a singular attitude: "from the front, in profile, three-quarters, leaning or in other poses, young, old, all the figures are treated with this variety which brings out the perfection of their sound. art ”(Vasari). La Force had only been the first stroke of a brilliant young virtuoso. Five years later, with this Epiphany, the artist celebrated throughout Florence intends to demonstrate the familiarity that now reigns between him and the ruling family. The man in the orange coat who casually looks in our direction is him.

In this staging which rejects the Holy Family in the background of the composition, we feel that the worldly aspects largely eclipse the religious subject. And Sandro obviously does not intend to stay in the shadows. The Medici have always liked to play kings, although they are neither princes nor dukes, nor even nobles for that matter: they are bankers. But what, to be the creditors of the Holy See and of the kings of France, and not to be on an equal footing with them? The patriarch of the dynasty, Cosimo the Elder, had secured the direction of Florence with blows of florins. Patient, tenacious, and occasionally violent, his successors have managed to preserve their stranglehold on the Tuscan city and unite around them a court unlike any other.

Laurent succeeded Pierre le Goutteux in 1469. Since his early childhood, he has known the harshness of power and all its artifices. He also knows, like his grandfather, once a friend and protector of the sculptor Donatello, that beauty is priceless. Admirably educated, he is an informed patron, a humanist keen on ancient literature, a poet of undeniable talent. It is already called the Magnificent. With his brother Julien whom he cherishes more than anything, he brings together in his villa in Careggi all the greatest minds of the time: among them, Marsile Ficino the philosopher, Politian the poet, Pic de la Mirandole the scholar. We discuss the subtleties of Neoplatonism and these games of correspondence, which see in ancient myths as a foreshadowing of the Holy Scriptures.

Each year a banquet brings Plato back to life; Botticelli is the new Apelles. In Politian, the painter meets the dream friend, the poet with a twin soul who will help him with dedication and enthusiasm in his most ambitious creations. Already, he formed the design of great allegories which, for eternity, would crown his genius. Of course, not everyone understands such a novelty, and Lorenzo Violi, a columnist, has nicknamed his workshop "the academy of the smokers". Sandro doesn't care. He does not care about criticism, he has the support of the powerful, the independence and freedom of a man in full maturity. At thirty, he already has no more accounts to answer than to himself.

However, in difficult times, Sandro does not bargain for his help.

In 1478, a conspiracy fomented by the Pazzi, but secretly supported by Pope Sixtus IV, sought to overthrow the Medici.

On Sunday April 26, during a mass celebrated in the cathedral, Julien was struck to death.

Laurent, mad with pain and rage, manages to escape and rallies the Florentines upset by this sacrilege.

To avenge his brother, he hangs all those responsible.

He will not even pardon the Archbishop of Pisa.

Sandro, at his request, painted the silhouette of the hanged men in fresco on the walls of Palazzo Vecchio.

In Julien, he also mourns a friend, he swears to pay homage one day to this young life mowed down in its spring.

Botticelli, all the beauty in the world, € 12.90 on Figaro Store 

Le Figaro Hors-Série

devotes a number to the painter of


La Belle Simonetta, Botticelli, 1485 (Städel Museum)

Source: lefigaro

All news articles on 2021-10-13

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