Painting by Sandro Botticelli

This paper analyses a painting by Sandro Botticelli, the analysis is made with reference to its history, ownership, availability, elements and principles. The meaning and the content of the painting is also analyzed, a conclusion is also made regarding the overall nature of the painting. The following is a discussion of the identification, subject, technical information, elements and principles and finally the purpose.

The title of the painting is "Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist by Sandro Botticelli", it was painted in approximately in 1500 and the painting is available at Sao Paulo Museum. The history of ownership is evident from a number of authors, According to Szentkiralyi (2010) the painting was bought by Janos Palffy in the year 1862 in London; he then gave it to Szepmuveszeti Museum in 1912.

The painting is biblical, this is evident from the title and the objects in the painting, the painting represents the Virgin Mary embracing baby Mary plus St John who in the bible is considered to have baptized Jesus. The picture depicts Jesus as a baby while baby Joseph an older child and the sign of player and holiness are indicated by baby Joseph.

Technical Information:

The painting type is Tempera on wood; dimensions are 74 centimeters by 74 centimeters, the painting is not in its original form, this is because some preservation measures have been undertaken, this means that various alterations have been made in order to depict the original idea.

Lines are used in this art work, they are used to create the outline of the objects included in the painting, and both horizontal and vertical lines are evident in the painting. These lines are thin and are used to emphasize the shape of the objects in the painting, most of these lines are visible and where some are thin and others bold, the use of lines make the objects to be clear and stand out against others.

Most of the shapes in the painting are circles; however other shapes such as rectangles and semicircles are evident, for example in order to depict the face of the virgin, baby and St John circles are used, other shapes evident are triangles and ovals. These shapes are used in the creation of the objects in the panting and are properly used in the creation of objects in the painting.

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Space is also evident in the painting; from the painting it is evident that some objects overlap creating a horizon and also objects that are close, for example the virgin, St John and the baby are close and in order to create space the artist created objects in the horizon such as hulls and trees in the background. This is made possible by the artists who used a linear perspective whereby objects in the background appear smaller compared to those in the foreground.


The artist also depicted the source of light, from the painting the light is applied on the left hand side and this is evident from the use of variation in brightness, on the left objects appear brighter than on the right.

The colors used in the painting are natural and warm, dominant colors in the paining include black, brown, and red, light brown colors are used for objects in the foreground while a dark brown color is used for the objects in the back ground to indicate the intensity of light and also an indication of space.

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The paining depicts a smooth texture, this is achieved though the patterns used in the paining, it is evident that from the paining that the texture used especially for the objects is smooth depicting a smooth texture, however for those objects in the background the patterns indicate rough texture.

Brush strokes are not visible in the painting, this makes the painting to look smooth and provide a polished surface of the paining. The paint used is opaque but in some instances transparent, for example for the John the Baptist head and Virgin Mary head, a round object is transparent and one can see through, this contribute to the meaning of the painting because these objects depict religious holiness of the individuals in the painting.

The painting is circular in nature and this means that it is symmetrical, another finding is that the objects are placed in such a way that objects on the right and left balance, the Virgin is a slightly placed on the right hand side and in order to balance this, John is on the left hand side and also a large hill in the background. Therefore the painting is symmetrical.

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Emphasis is placed on the three depicted individuals, this includes the Virgin, the baby and John, emphasis is ensured through placing the objects in the foreground and also using brighter colors.

Rhythm can be depicted through observation of repetition in the painting, although repetition is not extensively used, the repetition of shapes depict a rhythm, this is evident whereby the artists repeats various geometrical shapes in the painting.

Proposed meaning:

The proposed meaning of the painting is religious in nature, it depicts the relationship between the three individuals in the paining, it shows how caring the Virgin was to baby Jesus and also indicates that John the Baptist cared and guided baby Jesus.

From the above discussion it is evident that the artist utilized the various elements and principles of art, this aid in clearly depicting the images and objects in the painting, they also aid in clearly understand the meaning of the painting. Although the painting is not in its original states it still retains its original meaning.

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