Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi, c. 1475

Sandro Botticelli. Adoration of the Magi. c. 1475. Tempera on wood. 111 x 134 cm. Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence.

Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi was commissioned for Santa Maria Novella by Gasparre Lami in honor of the Medici dynasty. Like the Medici, Lami was heavily involved in banking and financial affairs, and thus wanted to pay homage to the powerful family with a theme that they cherished (Fossi, 267).  At the time of the commission for this work, the Magi had come to be emblematic of the Medici, who had adopted the 3 Kings as collective patrons of their family around 1440 (Hatfield, 20). Many portraits of the Medici entourage can be found in Botticelli’s masterpiece: the two kneeling Magi at the fore are portraits of Giovanni and Piero de Medici, sons of Cosimo the Elder. Lorenzo can be seen at the far left, while his brother Guiliano gazes downward at the far right.

References

Ettlinger, L.D. and Helen S. Ettlinger. Botticelli. New York: Oxford University Press, 1977.

Fossi, Gloria. Uffizi: Art, History, Collections. Milan: Giunti Editore, 2010.

Hartt, Frederick, and David G. Wilkins. History of Italian Renaissance Art. 5th ed. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 2003.

Hatfield, Rab. Botticelli’s Uffizi “Adoration”: A Study in Pictorial Content. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1976.

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