5 March – 3 July 2016
From paintings to print, tapestries to cinema, this show celebrates Botticelli's incredible influence across the arts.
Today considered a master of the Italian Renaissance, Sandro Botticelli was also one of the most esteemed artists of his time: as well as producing grand altarpieces and mythological paintings, he was summoned by Pope Sixtus IV to create a series of frescoes for the Sistine Chapel.
Yet after his death his accomplishments were disregarded and he disappeared from public consciousness for more than 300 years. It wasn't until his work was included in an exhibition in Manchester in 1857 – where it was viewed by more than a million people – that interest in the artist was renewed. It was the Pre-Raphaelites favour in particular, that was key to bringing Botticelli back into the spotlight.
This most significant British exhibition devoted to the artist since 1930, charts the Botticelli story from obscurity to ubiquity. Bringing together his masterpieces with paintings, photography and film made in homage to his work over the past 500 years, the display includes pieces by Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Morris, David LaChapelle, Elsa Schiaparelli, Andy Warhol and Cindy Sherman.
His most famous work, The Birth of Venus, has had an enormous impact on idealised perceptions of beauty, and has been re-appropriated and recreated on countless occasions. Although the original cannot leave its permanent display at the Uffizi Gallery this show includes a fantastic myriad of subsequent pieces, such as Warhol’s brightly coloured prints accommodating the goddess’s face and flowing hair, Yin Xin’s depiction of an Asian Venus and a series of cinematic homages such as Ursula Andress’ emergence from the sea in Dr No.
Botticelli's Portrait of a Lady known as Smeralda Bandinelli, formerly owned by Rossetti and now in the V&A's collection, has been restored especially for this exhibition.