Talk of Botticelli

Adoriation of the Magi Sandro Botticelli ca. 1478-1482 tempera and oil on panel  framed 39 X 52 inches The Andrew W. Mellon Collection The National Gallery of Art photo public domain from Wikimedia Commons

Adoriation of the Magi
Sandro Botticelli ca. 1478-1482
tempera and oil on panel
framed 39 X 52 inches
The Andrew W. Mellon Collection
The National Gallery of Art
photo public domain from Wikimedia Commons

At the dinner party at the Walpole-Wilson’s, Nick first meets Lady Anne Stepney, the unruly younger sister of Peggy Stepney, Stringham’s sometimes-wife. Pressed for conversational gambits, Nick reports “We talked for a time of Botticelli, the only painter in whom she appeared to feel any keen interest . . . . [BM 52/46]”

Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) was a hugely successful Florentine painter, the student of Fra Fillipo Lippi, but perhaps more widely known by today’s audience than is his teacher. Botticelli’s The Birth of Venus and Primavera are among the most familiar icons in the Western canon of painting, recognizable even to viewers with little knowledge of art history. Somewhat less well-known are the beautiful religious scenes from his later career, represented here by The Adoration of the Magi, now in the National Gallery in Washington D.C.

Botticelli’s fame declined after his death, and he was largely ignored until the Pre-Raphaelites took him up, at the end of the 19th century, as an exemplar of the lyrical realism they championed. By the time of the Walpole-Wilson’s dinner party between the World Wars, Botticelli’s paintings in the Uffizi were once again necessary stops on anyone’s grand tour of Europe. Hence, Lady Anne Stepney’s unwillingness to venture beyond Botticelli in her conversation with an art book publisher speaks less of her connoisseurship than of her truculence as a dinner partner.

Advertisements
This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s