Pala San Marcos, Boticelli

Pala San Marcos, Boticelli
Pala San Marcos, Boticelli

Boticelli's work is characterized by its familiarity and kind tone, however, in the last stage of his production his painting was strongly influenced by the ideas of Savonarola, harvesting a more ascetic and intimate tone. The work that we analyze here is one of those works corresponding to the last stage with a more personalized style.


Sandro Boticelli (1445 -1510) whose real name is Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filapipe is one of the most outstanding artists of the Italian Quattrocento. It appears that Boticelli was educated by his older brother from whom he took his nickname. His training as an artist did not begin until he was fourteen years old, which would mean a fairly advanced age for the time. His first teacher was Filippino Lippi from whom he learned the friendly and detailed tome of his compositions, although he was also strongly influenced by the monumentalism of Masaccio's figures.

On this occasion we analyze a work from his last stage that would date from 1490. It is an altarpiece -hence it is known as Pala which means altarpiece in Italian- and it represents the coronation of the Virgin Mary. It appears that piece was commissioned by the Goldsmiths' Guild for the church of San Marco in Florence using a large amount of gold leaf on the top.

The work represents a large vertical format-it measures almost four meters high and more than two and a half meters wide- and is painted in tempera on wood. The artist wanted to innovate in the technique by dispensing with the primer layer and applying the tempera directly on the wood with a lot of oil. Despite the fact that at first the result was satisfactory and the colors achieved were brilliant, the tempera dried too quickly, so in the mid-20th century an exhaustive restoration had to be carried out, without which the altarpiece would have been lost..

The scene appears divided into two registers, a lower one in which the figures of the four saints can be seen: Saint John the Baptist, Saint Augustine, Saint Jerome and Saint Eligius as patron saint of goldsmiths While in the upper register God the Father appears blessing and crowning the Virgin Mary who crouches in front of Him. Surrounding them we find a court of angels and cherubs that dance around them forming a celestial circle.

In the composition, the sculptural character of the figures typical of the style of this Renaissance artist stands out, as well as a bright color that can be seen in vermilion red.

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