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Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, better known as Sandro Botticelli ("little barrel") (March 1, 1445 ? May 17, 1510) was an Italian painter of the Florentine school during the Early Renaissance (Quattrocento). Less than a hundred years later, this movement, under the patronage of Lorenzo de' Medici, was characterized by Giorgio Vasari as a "golden age", a thought, suitably enough, he expressed at the head of his Vita of Botticelli.

Born in Florence in the working-class rione of Ognissanti, Botticelli was first apprenticed to a goldsmith, then, following the boy's wishes, his doting father sent him to Fra Filippo Lippi who was at work frescoing the Convent of the Carmine. Lippo Lippi's synthesis of the new control of three-dimensional forms, tender expressiveness in face and gesture, and decorative details inherited from the late Gothic style were the strongest influences on Botticelli. A different influence was the new sculptural monumentality of the Pollaiuolo brothers, who were doing a series of Virtues for the Tribunale or meeting hall of the Mercanzia, a cloth-merchants' confraternity, and Botticelli contributed to the set the Fortitude, dated 1470 in the Uffizi Gallery. He was an apprentice too of Andrea del Verrocchio, where Leonardo da Vinci worked beside him, but he made his name in his local Church of Ognissanti, with a St. Augustine that successfully competed as a pendant with Domenico Ghirlandaio's Jerome on the other side "the head of the saint being expressive of profound thought and quick subtlety" (Vasari). In 1470 he opened his own independent studio.

Lorenzo de' Medici was quick to employ his talent. Botticelli made consistent use of the circular tondo form and did many beautiful female nudes, according to Vasari. The Birth of Venus was at the Medici villa ......

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