Description of the picture:
Madonna and Child with Two Angels – Sandro Botticelli. 1468-1469. Tempera on the panel one hundred x seventy one cm
Art historians like to compare this picture with the works of other masters of the Renaissance, and especially with the works of Filippo Lippi. This artist was one of Botticelli’s teachers and it is not surprising that he adopted some style from his mentor. This can be seen from the filigree image of the drapery of the dress and cloak – very realistic curves (as you know, it was Lippi who directed the Renaissance painting along the path of naturalism and realism). Initially, the presented work was completely attributed to Lippi, but later studies have proved Sandro’s “barrel” authorship. But the play of light and shadow in the picture makes Botticelli in common with another master – Antonio del Pollayolo.
The work depicts a popular biblical story – the Madonna holds the Savior baby in her arms. On the sides of Jesus are two angels who help Mary keep her son. The faces of all the heroes are sad and serious – they know what a grave and great fate is destined for the baby. The Madonna gently touches the child’s feet, and the baby himself looks very closely and with some anxiety at the mother. His face actually echoes the serious facial expressions of the angels.
In the background we see a marble parapet. The parapet overlooks the Hortus conclusus, or “The Locked Garden.” The spiritual evolution of the artist affected his Madonnas. The Madonna presented is still enlightened and sublime, but Botticelli’s later creations on this plot demonstrate disappointment in the desire to find eternal beauty. Late Madonnas masters are pale, bloodless, with eyes full of tears.
It is known that Botticelli grew up in a very religious family, which could not but affect his personality and, accordingly, his work. Savonarola’s sermons had a great influence on the masters. After his execution, Botticelli never painted nudity.
This symbolic designation of the Virgin Mary has been popular since one thousand four hundred years in painting and literature. The canonical image of Hortus conclusus represents Mary and her baby in the garden behind a high fence, Botticelli brought the heroes to the forefront, and the high fence “turned” into a geometric parapet. Hortus conclusus is a symbol of the virginity of the Madonna. Accurate composition and frozen heroes remind the viewer the severity of the icons, but following the laws of perspective, thanks to which Mary with the baby and the angels was brought to the fore, makes them perceive as some real characters.