Madonna col Bambino e un angelo (c.1465-1467)

Botticelli, Sandro (c.1445-1510)

Madonna col Bambino e un angelo (Virgin and Child Supported by an Angel in a Garland)
Tempera on wood, 112 x 74 cm
Musée FeschAjaccio

Botticelli, like most of the artists gathered in this room, is Florentine. He is the direct heir of the first masters of the Renaissance, Masaccio or Donatello, and the contemporary of Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as The Magnificent, great protector of the arts.

A youthful work, this altarpiece, probably intended for a chapel, already possesses the grace and tenderness of the artist’s mature works. However, he is still close here to his master Filippo Lippi, from whom he borrows the idea of the angel supporting the Child (visible in a painting by Lippi kept at the Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence). He may also have been inspired, for the drawing of this adolescent angel, by a terracotta bas-relief by Andrea del Verrocchio (Louvre Museum). But Botticelli, who was about twenty years old when this painting was created, already asserts a personal virtuosity in the rendering of the supple and moving draperies, as in the expression of this somewhat melancholy softness which is specific to him.

All these qualities are summed up by the single figure of the angel, whose face seems to be illuminated by a sublime vision. He has just landed with a dancing step on a multicolored marble floor that has the impalpable aspect of light. The gesture of tenderness of the Child Jesus towards his mother already exists in certain Byzantine icons, but Botticelli transforms it into a very human expression.

The space is surrounded by a pink wall. A garland inspired by ancient sculptures (unfortunately very damaged) frames the scene. This wall and this garland undoubtedly evoke the walled garden, symbol of the purity of the Virgin.

Botticelli manages to find a subtle balance between the theological meanings of the scene and the decorative refinement of the details, while leaving room for a deep sense of humanity. (Musée Fesch)


Botticelli, Sandro (c.1445-1510)
Madonna col Bambino e angelo
Spedale degli InnocentiFirenze



Lippi, Filippo (1406-1469)
Madonna col Bambino e due angeli
Galleria degli UffiziFirenze