Portrait of a Young Woman (Simonetta Vespucci) by Sandro Botticelli, c. 1480, is a tempera painting on wood panel of an elegant young Florentine lady in colorful dress and elaborate hairstyle. Silhouetted in profile against a dark wall with window opening onto blue sky, the young woman’s swirling, braided hairstyle with ponytail is a wonder of classical Renaissance drawing and humanistic values. Botticelli’s clear, classical tempera technique created an enduring portrait of a beautiful Renaissance personality that looks as freshly painted today as in the 15th century.
Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) was a Florentine painter of the of the early Italian Renaissance who apprenticed under the master Filippo Lippi. With strong Gothic influences, the mature work of Botticelli reflected a study of antique classical sculpture and was noted for its linear grace and rhythm, flattened relief-like forms with strong contours, and subtle coloring. The complexity of meanings in Botticelli’s compositions, from sources drawn from classical antiquity, mythology and philosophy, enthralled scholars for centuries.