This will be very limited, as we will only use what is needed to understand what follows. He was born in 1445 in the Ognissanti parish in Florence, where he was registered as Alessandro, the son of di Mariano dei Filipepi. One rather curious thing - his father was fifty years old, and his mother was forty - this was very old. This would pursue him through life, as Sandro Botticelli's health was always very fragile, and the doctors would opine that he was born too late to parents who were too old. We know that his father took advantage of his birth to reregister his other children in the parish register, and we thus know that Sandro was his fourth child and, as it happens, his fourth son. All of them would be very successful: the eldest, Giovanni, would be a Florentine bank broker; the second, Antonio, would be a goldsmith; the third, Simone, would spend the greater part of his career in Naples with the Florentine Rucellai family in the cloth business with Spain. Sandro was thus the runt. The Botticelli family was far from being mediocre or poor. The 19th century art historians would have liked us to believe that Botticelli came from nowhere to become a god of painting - this is untrue. He came from the upper middle class. He was thus registered as Alessandro, which was shortened to Sandro; during his entire life, people would say "Sandro bello a mal sacro - Sandro is handsome but unhealthy", because he was always pale.
As to his name, why Botticelli? Here, there are also several hypotheses; his name was dei Filipepi, why don't we know him under that name? There appear to be two possible explanations: one of them is true, and you can each make your own choice (depending on how you feel about it). His elder brother, Giovanni, the family patriarch, was enormous, fabulously obese, and he had been nicknamed "Botticella", which means "keg" in Tuscan. Those close to the "Botticella" became "Botticelli", and that was where Botticelli's name supposedly came from - it's possible. The second explanation is more likely to be true: the family's second son was a goldsmith, and, as such, one of his privileges was the right to beat gold. We know that as soon as Botticelli reached the age of fourteen, his brother used him to help beat the gold. A gold beater was called a "battigello", which gradually became Botticelli - it's also possible.
The great Florentine families
who were always in search of young artists who could contribute something to
increase their prestige, flocked to him to have a Madonna painted, a Saint
Elizabeth, a Saint Augustine. It was nearly a period of line production work,
during which Botticelli painted small dimension paintings through which he
entered Florentine society.
He received his stamp of approval at 10 am on January 28, 1475; the bells of Santa Croce were all pealing wildly, because, as it happened every five years, the Medicis were offering Florence a joust - this was still done during the High Renaissance. Giuliano de' Medici was this joust's hero, with his armor, shield, sword, plumes - it was grandiose and Florence remembered it with emotion. But, and this was the most important, the hero's emblem floated at the end of a pole: his banner was fabulous and had been painted by Sandro Botticelli.
This work, borne by Florence's master, transformed Botticelli not only into the protégé of the gods, but also the protégé of princes. Botticelli's great career began soon after. To summarize this great career, we are going to look at two commissions - one profane: two frescoes in the Lemmi Villa, and the other sacred: those in the Sistine Chapel, which are little-known Botticelli works.