Without doubt, Sandro Botticelli was the most individual painter in Florence at the turn of the 15th century. It can be successfully argued that he wasn't the most influential but no matter: what Botticelli left was exquisitely his own. His work is just breathtakingly, hair-standing-on-the-back-of-your-head, gorgeously, beautifully beautiful. Check out the gallery and dine at a rich man's table with a Botticelli sumptious feast.
Botticelli was born in the working-class rione of Ognissanti, the fourth-son of a devoted father, Mariano di Vanni Filipepi, a tanner. His apprenticeships included (probaly) under Fra Filippo Lippi and Andrea del Verrocchio. For the latter, he worked alongside Leonardo da Vinci. He was influenced by the Pollaiuolo brothers around 1470, when he painted a Fortitude to go with a set of six Virtues by Piero Pollaiuolo (all seven are now in the Uffizi).
At the age of 25, he opened his own independent studio. Lorenzo de' Medici was a patron. His work fused pagan and Christian themes for from early adulthood he was deeply religious and in later years when, as a follower of the Dominican monk Girolamo Savonarola, Botticelli burned his own paintings which featured pagan themes.
In 1472, he became a member of the St. Luke's Guild.
At 36, Pope Sixtus IV included him with other Florentine and Umbrian artists to fresco the walls of the Sistine Chapel. Afterwards, he returned to Florence, Projects included illustrating Dante's Divine Comedy.
Mystic Nativity (1500: London, NG), a languorous and anti-naturalistic ecstasy, was his last dated and only signed work.
Little is known of his later work other than the aforementioned Savonarola inspired destruction of many of his own early paintings. As a result, he fell into poverty, and was helped out by his former patrons.
Dates of Works
Wonderful canvas prints that have to be seen to be believed.