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May 20, 2023

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Botticelli’s exhibition traces the Gothic-Renaissance transition

COULD eternal love be visualized?

Yes, as Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) made it.

When the Italian Renaissance master first met Simonetta, he immediately found his lifelong dream of an artistic muse.

The beautiful image was everywhere under his brushstrokes, whether it is Venus, the goddess of spring — Clarisse — or the goddess of flowers — Flora.

Simonetta died at 22. However, Botticelli, unmarried through his entire life, had solidified her ethereal and esthetic beauty in the whole Western art.

The man’s last wish was to bury himself just beside her tomb 40 years later.

Probably this year’s must-visit exhibition in Shanghai, “Botticelli and the Renaissance” is under way at the Bund One Art Museum.

The exhibition was first announced in 2021, but was later postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

Co-hosted by the Bund One Art Museum and the Uffizi Galleries of Italy, the exhibition centered around Botticelli showcases 10 rare paintings by the Florentine artist and 38 works by other Renaissance masters. They include Botticelli’s world-famous paintings “Pallas and the Centaur” and “Adoration of the Magi.”

“This is such a precious opportunity for the local visitors to witness these treasures of the Uffizi Galleries in Italy,” said Xie Dingwei, director of Shanghai Tix Media. “There have been so many efforts and endeavors to accomplish the exhibition.”

The four-month-long exhibition is the second one of 10 from the Uffizi’s collection to be shown in Shanghai in five years, thanks to a collaboration between the Uffizi and Shanghai Tix Media.

The project is aimed at constantly promoting Italy’s artistic heritage around the world.

The exhibition has been curated into four themes — “Florence and Renaissance: The City and Leading Figures,” “The House in the Renaissance,” “Renaissance and Antiquity” and “Botticelli and the Florentine Painters of the Renaissance” — covering various art forms such as tempera painting, oil painting, fresco and sculpture. It explores the evolution from Gothic to the Renaissance, and is also an exploration of the seminal influence of the Medici family of Florence on the Renaissance and art history.

Besides the masterpieces of Botticelli, the exhibition displays rare artworks by 30 other world-famous artists, such as “Annunciation, St Anthony Abbot and St John the Baptist” by Botticelli’s mentor Filippo Lippi (1406-1469), “Saint Mary Magdalene” by Pietro Perugino (1446-1523), one of the first Italian oil painters, and “Venus” by the well-known Italian painter Lorenzo di Credi (1459-1537).

Perhaps it is interesting for the viewers to find “Adoration of the Magi” created by Botticelli in different periods, and the same title is also depicted under the brushstrokes by Cosimo Rosselli (1439-1507).

“Adoration of the Magi” (1475), “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring” are widely considered Botticelli’s three most famous paintings.

In mid-15th century Italy, the Renaissance was poised to take off, and Florence, under the control of the Medici family, entered a golden age of power and influence.

As one of the favorite painters of the Medicis, Botticelli not only painted several members of the family into “Adoration of the Magi,” but himself as well. Standing far right in the painting, the figure in a golden robe who turns around and looks at the viewers is actually the painter himself. It is said to be the only portrait of Botticelli that exists today.

Although “The Birth of Venus” and “Spring” are not allowed to travel outside Italy, compensation is made through the exclusively licensed replicas made by the Uffizi for the Shanghai exhibition.

The Uffizi in Florence is one of the most-visited museums in the world. It houses some of the most important works of the Renaissance, including paintings by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) and Botticelli.


Dates: Through August 27, 10am-6pm

Tickets: 188 yuan

Venue: Bund One Art Museum

Address: 1 Zhongshan Road E1


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