Botticelli, Alexander

an Italian painter and engraver, was born at Florence, in 1437; and being placed as a disciple with Filippo Lippi, he imitated that master, as well in his design as colouring. He performed several considerable works at Florence, and several at Rome, by which he gained great reputation; at the former, a Venus rising from the sea, and also a Venus adorned by the graces; and at the latter, he painted sacred subjects from the New Testament, which at that time were very much commended. He obtained great honour by his performances in the chapel of Sixtus IV. for which he was very amply rewarded; and for the family of the Medici he finished some portraits, and many historical compositions. It was customary with this master to introduce a great number of figures in all the subjects he designed, and he disposed them with tolerable judgment and propriety; but in one of his designs, representing the Adoration of the Magi, the variety and multitude of his figures are astonishing. He received large sums of money for his works, all of which he expended, and died in 1515 in great distress, and far advanced in years.

Mr Strutt has introduced him in chap. VI. of his “Origin and Progress of Engraving,” to which we refer the reader. Baldini, according to the general report, communicated to him the secret of engraving, then nt-wiy discovered by their townsman Finiguerra. The curious edition of Dante printed at Florence in 1481 (or 1488) and to which, according to some authors, Botticelli undertook to write notes, was evidently intended to have been ornamented with prints, one for each canto: and these prints | (as many of them as were finished) were designed, if not engraved, by Botticelli. Mr. Roscoe, however, says, that they were designed by Botticelli, and engraved by Baldini. It is remarkable, that the first two plates only were printed upon the leaves of the book, and for want of a blank space at the head of the first canto, the plate belonging to it is placed at the bottom of the pag’e. Blank spaces are left for all the rest, that as many of them as were finished might be pasted on. Mr. Wilbraham possesses the finest copy of this book extant in any private library; and the number of prints in it amounts to nineteen, the first two, as usual, printed on the leaves, and the rest pasted on; and these, Mr. Strutt thinks, were all that Botticelli ever executed. Mr. Roscoe describes another copy as in his possession, formerly in the Pinelli library. 1


Pilkington —Strutt. Roscoe’s Leo.