With Michelangelo, Botticelli shared a mentor. The Florentine prince, Lorenzo de Medici, known as Lorenzo the Magnificent, surrounded himself with Neoplatonists, or those who followed the Greek philosophy of Plato. It was little wonder, in this womb-like atmosphere the arts in Florence flourished, and none moreso than Botticelli. Building upon the work of Giotto and Masaccio, and particularly Piero della Francesca, whom he may have studied under, he is all the more remarkable in that his work with it's tightly drawn, yet flowing lines, while borrowing their trademark chiaroscuro, otherwise looks NOTHING like theirs.
Two of Botticelli's works have been lifted as standards by art historians, his La Primavera, a lyrical, dancing composition of flowing lines celebrating the rites of spring, and perhaps more importantly The Birth of Venus, painted about 1482. Dubbed by wags as Venus on the Half-Shell, there is a breezy, airy, weightless quality to the nude and semi-nude figures this painting as entwinded zephyrs breathe winds causing the painting's namesake, born of the sea, to float shore, rising up in a modest pose epitomizing forever the Renaissanace ideal of feminine beauty. Oh yes, the model was somewhat famous as well, or rather one of her relatives earned a perhaps undeservedly high place in history. She was Simonetta Vespucci, cousin to the Italian navigator and explorer for which America was named.