As a painter, Botticelli is difficult to come to grips with, as his body of work is extremely varied. He goes from profane works to sacred works, from works which were unqualified successes to far more ponderous works. In both domains, Botticelli's work is very uneven. Were we to be shown his work in chronological order, our appreciation would fluctuate, and, at the end, we would not have a feeling of synthesis about his work. While preparing this lecture and assembling all the Madonnas, we came to the conclusion that there is not only one Sandro Botticelli, but two.
Looking at what came out of his atelier over time, that is to say in chronological order, we cannot grasp Botticelli's genius. When we realize that he approached Christian religious scenes and pagan religious scenes in a totally different manner, not only with a different brush and palette, but a different state of mind, we begin to see the light. This evening's lecture is what it is simply because we thought of regrouping the Madonnas. We will keep that order and look at a series of Botticelli's works, first the works of Christian inspiration, then the profane works.