The sleeping Mars from ‘VENUS & MARS’ – SANDRO BOTTICELLI

The sleeping Mars from ‘VENUS & MARS’


What do we actually know about Sandro Botticelli? What can we possibly know?  These are two different questions, and we can only answer the latter – the educated guess being no more valid than an emotional one.


Botticelli’s face proves how much more he was than a generic woodcut printed in the frontispiece of Dante’s Divine Comedy, a book he illustrated. A self-portrait, more than any other, is an accurate representation of a physical person. Behold, a haughty moment captured from a prolonged gaze in a mirror. Introspection fused to a defensive reflection.

‘The Adoration of the Magi’ – 1475
Sandro Botticelli’s self-portrait, age 35

Vanity? Perhaps. Here is a man turned out for deliberate remembrance, critiqued to the full extent of his professional examination. Clean-shaven and well-dressed, titian hair aglow. Eyes blazing life. Fire under the skin. Smouldering. Here is a whole person. Here is Tuscan sunshine glinting off the gold threads of an apricot cloak.

An image of oneself usually survives vanity only after it is found favorable. Is it flattery? Most definitely. Why else would a professional portrait painter abuse his best mode of self-promotion?

But the first question haunts us. What do we absolutely know? We know Botticelli once lived and there were days when he breathed under an apricot cloak. We know this cloak is now dust – lost in the refuse of daily things. We know Sandro has been a child and a teenager and an old man. We know that the days during which Botticelli painted his portrait, he walked away from his mirror to eat and drink. He laughed and concentrated between sips of wine, and then he painted. We know that at one precise moment he set aside his brushes, deciding his work was done, which is a significant moment for an artist.

We know Sandro’s portrait remains alive as testament to his chance for creative immortality. And we know Botticelli’s Adoration of 1475 was left to dry in the musty air of an artist’s studio, wet and vulnerable in a corner, while other work continued around it. It is clear that no serious accident befell it when it passed from hand-to-hand… or did it?

‘The Adoration of the Magi’ – 1475 – Sandro Botticelli

I doubt Botticelli painted a horse so ill-placed as to fall out of the picture plane. I suspect someone tampered, hopefully after the artist’s lifetime.

But, back to my subjective view as an author: Botticelli is having an intimate tease with us. Do you not feel it? He is there. He has survived five-hundred years of dust to meet us face to face. To stare into our eyes, soul-to-soul. Botticelli is ours now, to marvel at his silenced thoughts transmitted from eye-to-eye. I believe he was well satisfied with his portrait.

“Here I am,” it says. “While you’re trying to read me, I’m trying to guess who you are. Have we met? Could we? Yes, we’re meeting now. My name is Sandro, and you are …?”


About Veronica Knox

Veronica Knox has a Fine Arts Degree from the University of Alberta, where she studied Art History, Classical Studies, and Painting. In her career as a graphic designer, illustrator, private art teacher, and ‘fine artist,’ she has also worked with the brain-injured and autistic, developing new theories of hand-to-eye-to-mind connection. Veronica lives on the west coast of Canada, supporting local animal rescue shelters, painting, writing, editing other author’s novels, and championing the conservation of tigers and elephants, and their habitats. Her artwork and visuals to support ‘Second Lisa’ may be viewed on her website -
This entry was posted in Adoration, art history, Books, fantasy, Fine Art, Florence, Florence. Italy, Historical Fantasy, Historical Fiction, Italian renaissance, Italy, paranormal romance, REINCARNATION, romance, Sandro Botticelli, Silent K Publishing, supernatural, time travel, V Knox, V. Knox author, Veronica Knox author and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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