Botticelli Drawings

By Furio Rinaldi, Cecilia Frosinini, Lorenza Melli, and Jonathan K. Nelson

Botticelli Drawings book jacket

Sandro Botticelli (ca. 1445–1510) is one of the most beloved artists of the Italian Renaissance, renowned for his paintings La Primavera and The Birth of Venus. A lesser-known aspect of his career is his work as a draftsman. His drawings are extraordinary, yet their rarity and unconventional style have kept them from being more widely recognized. Botticelli Drawings is the first major book to examine the foundational role that drawings played in Botticelli’s oeuvre in terms of his aesthetic, practice, and process—from his earliest recorded drawings made under the master Fra Filippo Lippi (ca. 1406–1469) to the experimental and expressive designs for his final paintings. 

This elegant catalogue, published on the occasion of the exhibition Botticelli Drawings at the Legion of Honor museum, reunites the majority of Botticelli’s surviving sheets, including several new attributions, discussed in detailed object entries. Essays further explore the development of the artist’s draftsmanship, the broader Florentine culture in which he worked, his elusive biography, and his design practices as revealed in new technical analyses of the underdrawings of some of his most remarkable paintings. In its focus on little-known and unknown material by one of the most eminent artists in the canon, this is a landmark publication in the field of Renaissance art.


Furio Rinaldi is the curator of drawings and prints in the Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Cecilia Frosinini is an art historian of the Italian Ministry of Culture at the Opificio delle Pietre Dure and a member of the advisory board of the Gallerie degli Uffizi, both in Florence.

Lorenza Melli is a visiting scholar at the Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut.

Jonathan K. Nelson is a teaching professor at Syracuse University Florence and a research associate at the Harvard Kennedy School in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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