Famous Illustrators: Sandro Botticelli

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Botticelli’s map of The Inferno

The great Early Renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli is best known for his large paintings The Birth of Venus and Primavera, but he was also an illustrator, more than once, of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

For perhaps the very first illustrated version of Dante’s masterpiece, Botticelli created a small number of drawings which were then engraved by fellow Florentine, Baccio Baldini. The edition was published in 1481.

Later, Botticelli worked on a far more ambitious project for approximately twenty years (1480-1500); illustrating Dante’s Divine Comedy in full color to become a bound book of the originals.  It’s believed that it was Lorenzo de Medici that commissioned the illustration job, but unfortunately it was never finished, due either to political strife that drove the Medici’s from Florence, or to the death of the artist (explanations vary).

What remain however, are 92 of the 100 large drawings (ink on sheep’s parchment) created for all three sections of the Divine Comedy: Inferno, Purgatoria and Paradiso. Botticelli intended color illustrations for all of Dante’s cantos but only a few are finished with color media.

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Sychophants

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Sodomites

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Satan

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Giants

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