Botticelli’s Venus to Go on View in the United States for the First Time

It is part of a touring exhibition featuring sixteen paintings.

Sandro Botticelli and workshop, Venere (Venus) half body detail. Courtesy Galleria Sabauda, Turin

A Venus painting by Italian master Sandro Botticelli will go on view in the United States for the first time as part of a touring exhibition featuring sixteen paintings from throughout his oeuvre.

“Botticelli and the Search for the Divine: Florentine Painting between the Medici and the Bonfires of the Vanities” will go on view at Muscarelle Museum of Art in Virginia before traveling to Museum of Fine Arts in Boston. As one of the highlights, the exhibition will feature one of only two isolated depictions of Venus ever painted by the much-loved artist.

As well as sixteen works by Botticelli—many life size works from Italian museums and churches—viewers can also expect six works from his master Filippo Lippi. The only pupil of the legendary Masaccio and the teacher of Botticelli, this show will provide a rare opportunity to see his works alongside his most famous pupil.

Also on view will be works by Lippi’s son, Filippino Lippi, who was in turn Botticelli’s pupil, alongside other important representatives of Renaissance Florence such as Antonio del Pollaiuolo, and portraits depicting sworn enemies Lorenzo the Magnificent and Fra Girolamo Savonarola.

Botticelli was born the son of leather tanner and his talent was spotted at a young age when he was taken out of school to work as a goldsmith’s apprentice before leaving for an apprenticeship with Lippi who, although was trained in the sparse style of Massacio developed his own more decorative style, the influence of which can be seen in Botticelli’s work.

Bottecilli’s rise to success was quick and after a time painting frescos in the churches of Florence he worked for Del Pollaiuolo before starting his own workshop aged around 25. He later employed Lippi’s son Filipino with whom he swapped roles and broke convention, finishing his painting The Adoration of the Kings (1470).


“We are extremely proud to be able to bring to this country a ground-breaking exhibition of one of the world’s greatest artists,” said Aaron De Groft, director of the Muscarelle Museum of Art.

“The Botticelli show continues a tradition of internationally important exhibitions, following Michelangelo, Caravaggio, and Leonardo da Vinci in recent years, in which exhibitions of great original works of art provide the lens for us to explore the themes and ideas that inspired their genius,” he added.

The exhibition is a collaboration between the Muscarelle Museum, MFA Boston, and Italy’s Associazione Culturale Metamorfosi. Renato Miracco, the Italian Embassy’s cultural attaché expressed his excitement ahead of the exhibition, which is the latest in a long line of collaborations between the Italian Embassy in the US and the Muscarelle Museum.

“[It] will be the largest and most important exhibition of its type ever organized in the United States…the exhibition catalogues by John Spike, a leading Italianist [sic], have been outstanding works of scholarship.”

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