portrait of a young man

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This young man looks like a rock star, doesn’t he?

Sandro Botticelli is best known for his mythological subjects, but he also painted many portraits, though not as many as one might imagine. There are many idealized portraits of women that may not represent a particular person. His male portraits also often have mysterious identities, most often of various Medici family members. With one or two exceptions, his small, free-standing panel portraits show only the torso above the ribs of the subject in the seated position. The background of the painting may be a solid color, or an open window through which usually only the sky can be seen. Few backgrounds unfold to depict the landscape. These features were typical of Florentine portraiture at the beginning of his career, but became obsolete by the end of his career.

In 1922, art historian Bernard Berenson attributed the painting to Botticelli. The painting is of a local Florentine. Features of the work include his playful expression and graceful gestures, which some consider to be an early depiction of juvenile arthritis or Marfan syndrome, a rare multisystem that affects connective tissue Genetic disease. People with this condition tend to be tall and thin, with long arms, legs, fingers, and toes. But it could also just be Botticelli’s style.

Sandro Botticelli was a Renaissance genius whose Birth of Venus became one of the most famous paintings in art history. It is of course also part of our ” Masterpiece 50 ” series of postcards. 🙂

Side note: With our technology today, we can identify the health conditions of people hundreds of years ago! Curious about possible health issues with the Mona Lisa ?

43.5 x 46.2 cm


National Gallery of Art

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