Sandro Botticelli, ‘Head of a Youth Wearing a Cap; a Right Forearm with the Hand Clutching a Stone; and a Left Hand Holding a Drapery’, 1480/1485, National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.

Overall: 28.7 x 20.1 cm (11 5/16 x 7 15/16 in.)

Image rights: Courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington

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About Sandro Botticelli

Born Alessandro di Mariano Filipepi, Sandro Botticelli (“botticello” meaning “little barrel”) created some of the most celebrated paintings of the early Italian Renaissance, including the Primavera (ca. 1478), Venus and Mars (1485) and The Birth of Venus (ca. 1486). Under the patronage of the Medici, the most powerful family in Florence, he became renowned for his graceful portraits of Florentine aristocracy and ecclesiastical and mythical figures dressed in filmy drapery, which seem to float weightlessly against their backgrounds. Diverging from many of his contemporaries’ interest in naturalistic depictions and anatomy, Botticelli often rendered his subjects with elongated limbs and hands delineated through subtle use of contour, thereby inventing a style that foregrounded Mannerism and influenced generations of artists from the Pre-Raphaelites to contemporary artists like John Currin.

Italian, 1444-1510, Florence, Italy, based in Florence, Italy