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For much of his lifetime, the Florentine Sandro Botticelli, was one of the most celebrated artists in Italy. His gracious female figures, impressive altarpieces and mythological scenes were greatly admired. He worked for the Pope in Rome, and his paintings were sought by patrons as far afield as Spain.

Botticelli’s artistic talent developed quickly. By the age of 25, he was the master of his own workshop. His training – with the goldsmith Maso Finiguerra, the artistic polymaths Antonio del Pollaiuolo and Andrea del Verrocchio, and the graceful painter Fra Filippo Lippi – made drawing the centre of his artistic practice. It also gave him an entrée into the highest circles in Florence.

Botticelli spent much of his life working for the Medici family and their associates. He remained in Florence after the Medici were expelled from the city in 1494. Some of his later work reflects the teachings of the visionary friar, Savonarola, who dominated Florentine public life for four turbulent years.

By the end of his life, Botticelli’s art and innovation had largely been forgotten. In the 19th century, a renewed interest in Florentine Renaissance painting brought fresh appreciation of his work. Today his pictures are prized across the world.