Adoration of the Magi (Botticelli)

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The Adoration of the Magi (Sandro Botticelli)
The adoration of the Magi
Sandro Botticelli , around 1476
Tempera on wood
111 × 134 cm
Uffizi Gallery

The Adoration of the Magi is a painting by Sandro Botticelli from around 1476 , which was executed in tempera on wood and measures approximately 111 cm × 134 cm.


The picture was commissioned by the Florentine banker Guaspare di Zanobi del Lama, a friend of the Medici family , who had ordered it as an altarpiece for the burial chapel, the Cappella Lami of his family on the inner facade of the Santa Maria Novella church .

The work was later replaced by an Annunciation by Santi di Tito and is now in the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence . It is also called the Zanobi Altar after its client and its original purpose .

This name distinguishes it from four other paintings by Botticelli that deal with the same motif, all also in tempera on wood. These include two earlier works, an Adoration of the Magi in collaboration with Filippino Lippi from around 1470 and another picture of the same name from around 1470–1475, both of which can be seen in the National Gallery in London. The Adoration of the Magi , about 1478–1482, which is exhibited in the National Gallery of Art in Washington DC, and the work of the same name by Botticelli and his circle around 1500, which is in the depot of the Uffizi Gallery, emerged later . These paintings are considered typical of the art epoch of the Renaissance , more precisely the Quattrocento .

The Zanobi altar dealt with here, dating from around 1475, is not only of art historical importance, both in terms of the composition of the picture and in terms of the design of the motif of the adoration of the child by the three wise men . It is also of documentary interest, as some of the figures shown have facial features that identify them with historical personalities who lived in Florence in the second half of the 15th century, primarily members of the patriciate such as the Florentine regent family of the Medici .

Identified people
  • Cosimo de 'Medici , called “the old man” (il Vecchio) , is the wise man from the Orient who kneels in front of Mary with the child.
  • In the center of the picture, Cosimo's son Piero di Cosimo de 'Medici , known as "the gouty" (il Gottoso) , kneels as the second sage in a red coat with an ermine sash .
  • The third sage, kneeling with a light, translucent cloak, who turns to himself and to whom Piero is, is Piero's brother Giovanni di Cosimo de 'Medici .
  • Lorenzo il Magnifico, according to Leuker Giuliano , son of Piero and grandson of Cosimo, is shown as a young man in a bright, bright robe, who leads the group on the left.
  • To the right above the sage with Giovanni's features, as a figure in a dark, almost black robe with a red insert, Giuliano di Piero de 'Medici, Lorenzo's brother, is depicted at the same height.
Probably Sandro Botticelli

The person on the far right of the picture, wearing a beige-brown coat and looking out of the picture, probably represents the artist himself, Sandro Botticelli.

Also shown as people looking towards the viewer of the picture are

  • Filippo Strozzi the elder in the right group.
  • in the left group of the commissioner of this picture, Guaspare di Zanobi del Lama.

Some other people in the picture could meanwhile be assigned with some certainty to personalities of the Florentine society of that time.

The meeting of the Medici family, as it seems to take place with these denotations in the picture, is anachronistic insofar as the three Medici members depicted as the Three Magi - Cosimo, Piero and Giovanni - had all died around 1475; at that time Lorenzo ruled. His brother Giuliano fell victim to the Pazzi conspiracy in 1478 .

The intention here was probably to pay homage to the Medici family , from whom the artist received most of the commissions in the decade from 1470 to 1481, before he left for Rome. The integration of his own person into the circle of those portrayed underlines his bond with the family.

The harmonious design of the picture - Mary with child in the middle ground, equivalent groups of people in the left and right picture ground, embedded in an imaginary landscape with an ancient temple ruin - is described in the literature with expressions such as "animated" and "poetic". Already Giorgio Vasari in his biography of Sandro Botticelli (in Le Vite de 'più eccellenti architetti, pittori, et scultori italiani , Florence 1550, 2 volumes) highlighted this painting as a particularly high-quality work.

Adorazione del Bambino (Botticelli, fresco today in Santa Maria Novella )

Above the painting was a fresco of the Nativity , also made by Sandro Botticelli , which is now located above the main portal of the inner facade of the Church of Santa Maria Novella.

See also


Web links

Commons : Adoration of the Magi (Botticelli)  - Collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. a b Catalog of the Florentine Museums
  2. ^ Website of the National Gallery (London): Adoration of the Magi, ca.1470 .
  3. ^ Website of the National Gallery (London): Adoration of the Magi, about 1470–1475 .
  4. ^ Website of the National Gallery of Art (Washington): Adoration of the Magi, about 1478–1482 .
  5. ^ Website of the Polo Museale Fiorentino (Florence), Inventario 1890: Adoration of the Magi, around 1500
  6. Frank Zöllner: Sandro Botticelli , 2005, p. 28. (
  7. Tobias Leuker: Building Blocks of a Myth. Cologne / Weimar / Vienna 2007, pp. 193–197, 194. (
  8. ^ Frank Zöllner: Sandro Botticelli . Prestel-Verlag, 2005, ISBN 3-7913-3273-2 , p. 28. (