Caroline Campbell on the ways in which cities have shaped art history
January 2, 2024
Top picks for spring 2024: new art books out soon
January 2, 2024
Caroline Campbell on the ways in which cities have shaped art history
January 2, 2024
Top picks for spring 2024: new art books out soon
January 2, 2024

• Click here for more reading lists on the world’s greatest artists

The Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli (around 1445-1510) is known for his ability to capture the beauty of divine and mythological figures. His Birth of Venus (around 1485) enjoys near Mona Lisa levels of fame. But the beauty is underpinned by skilled draughtsmanship, and the first major show to focus on the Florentine’s drawings opened late last year at the Legion of Honor in San Francisco. It traces the Old Master’s career and includes rarely seen works as well as five newly attributed drawings. To help us get our heads around all that heady beauty, the show’s curator Furio Rinaldi has selected four of the best books on Botticelli.

Alessandro Filipepi, commonly called Sandro Botticelli, painter of Florence (1908) by Herbert Percy Horne

“The fundamental work on Botticelli is Herbert Percy Horne’s monumental monograph, which was printed in only 240 copies. Horne documented Botticelli’s biography and artistic evolution with unsurpassed thoroughness and a wealth of documentary evidence. For its methodical approach, Horne’s Botticelli is a cornerstone classic in the field of Renaissance studies and, in my opinion, is the best monograph ever written on an Italian artist.”

Sandro Botticelli (1925, 3 vols) by Yukio Yashiro

“Often dismissed by European connoisseurs more as a curiosity of criticism rather than a systematic and scholarly study, Yukio Yashiro’s magnum opus brings instead an incredibly fresh and unique perspective on the artist from a non-Western point of view. Yashiro’s observations on Botticelli’s line are simply poetic and his selection of photographs—with incredibly defined detail shots of Botticelli’s paintings that had been newly photographed by Giacomo Brogi—are just striking.”

Sandro Botticelli: The Drawings for Dante’s Divine Comedy (2001), edited by Hein-Th Schulze Altcappenberg

“The general knowledge of Botticelli as a draughtsman today relies almost entirely on the exceptional series of illustrations of Dante’s Divine Comedy that he drew on parchment for Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici. Seven plates are in the Vatican Library, while the majority of the sheets were acquired by Berlin’s Kupferstichkabinett in 1882 from the library of the Duke of Hamilton. In 2000-01, the entire set was exceptionally reunited for a spectacular suite of exhibitions held in Berlin (Kulturforum), Rome (Scuderie del Quirinale) and London (Royal Academy), to which this publication—with lavish illustrations and thorough descriptions of each drawing—constitutes the catalogue.”

Botticelli: Artist and Designer (2021) by Ana Debenedetti

“Attempting to investigate beyond Botticelli’s output as a painter, Debenedetti offers an agile and dynamic account of the artist’s workshop practices and diversified artistic production, which extended to wood marquetry, printmaking, inlay and textile design.”

• Botticelli Drawings, Legion of Honor, San Francisco, until 11 February

First appeared on…

Comments are closed.