Adoration of the Magi. The altar of Zanobi by Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi. The altar of Zanobi by Sandro Botticelli

Painting by Sandro Botticelli “Adoration of the Magi”, customer altar banker Giovanni di Zanobi del Lama, originally the painting was in the church of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. The size of the picture is 111 x 134 cm, wood, tempera. This story was spread in the painting of the Early Renaissance. The artists sought to convey in detail the circumstances of the gospel story of the miraculous birth of Christ and the three eastern kings who came with their retinues to worship Him.

Benozzo Gozzoli, Botticelli’s predecessor in the treatment of the theme, 16 years before he executed the painting

in the Medici’s house chapel, presented a spectacle unfolding with almost fabulous splendor. Botticelli created a series of paintings on the theme of the Adoration of the Magi. This story appears in his work from the beginning of the 1470s; the earliest work included archaic elements and was crowded with figures. Developing the theme, Sandro comes to the construction of the picture “Adoration of the Magi” in 1475, the best picture of this topic.

Sandro Botticelli shows the gospel event as a mystery. In the depth of the composition is the Holy Family. The baby, sitting on Mary’s lap, causes a feeling of deepest reverence among the congregation. The artist uses in the layout of the scene a variety of poses, movements, turns and head inclinations. And it emphasizes this by the changeable, but internally connected course of the line. The place where the action takes place is the world of antiquity: in the distance, the ruins of the ancient temple can be seen. But everywhere a new life breaks through, among the stones, the first shoots grow – a kind of symbol of a new era that marks the birth of Christ. In the picture there is modernity, because the participants in the action are people who were then known throughout Florence.

Many were members of the Brotherhood of the Magi; putting on the feast of the Adoration of the Magi in magnificent clothes, they actually went astride the streets of the city to the place of worship. The echo of this ritual has changed in the picture of Botticelli in a fantastic spectacle. In a soft scattered light, transmitted by golden lines and playing golden glare and patterns on clothes, the representatives of the elite of Florence contemplate the appearance of a deity or True Light. “Adoration of the Magi” was ordered by the banker Zanobi del Lama, close to the Medici family. It was intended for his family altar in the church of Santa Maria Novella. One of the distinguishing features of the picture is the numerous portraits of the Medici family and their entourage. The artist Sandro Botticelli reveals the portrait similarity of each of the characters, but also idealizes them, combining in the act of sublime contemplation.

In the left part of the picture are Lorenzo de ‘Medici, holding with some arrogance, the poet Angelo Politiano leaning over his shoulder; next is the young philosopher Count Pico della Mirandola, gesturing to the miraculous phenomenon of the Child. We continue the description of the picture with the words of Giorgio Vasari: “And we see special expressiveness in the old man, who, kissing the feet of our Lord and melting with tenderness, in a superb way shows that he reached the goal of his longest journey. The figure of this king is an exact portrait of Cosimo the Elder di Medici “.

On the right side of the composition, starting from the center, the sons of Cosimo the Elder, Piero and Giovanni, who are already dead by the time of writing, are depicted near them in a black dress with a red trim melancholy Giuliano Medici, followed by the philosopher Giovanni Argyropoulos.

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