The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti
by Sandro BOTTICELLI

In the 1480s Botticelli gained commissions from the families in high society. Increasingly they chose classical themes for the luxurious decoration of their town houses, but they also included some from contemporary literature. In order to be able to carry out his multiple commissions, Botticelli had to work together with other painters as well as members of his own workshop. The four-part Nastagio degli Onesti cycle, Botticelli's reworking of a novella in Boccaccio's Decameron, was produced with the aid of Bartolomeo di Giovanni, an artist who had also worked for Ghirlandaio.

Nastagio degli Onesti, a knight from Ravenna, whose beloved initially refused to marry him, finally weds her after all. First of all, however, he must remind her of the eternal agony in hell of another merciless woman, one who had also refused marriage, her rejected lover had to pursue her until he had caught up with her, killed her, torn out her heart and intestines and fed them to his dogs.

The occasion for which Botticelli's patron, Antonio Pucci, ordered these pictures was the wedding of his son Giannozzo to Lucrezia Bini. The paintings originally decorated a room in the old Pucci palace and were set into a 'spalliera', a type of wall paneling. Botticelli was the first to adapt Boccaccio's story for panel painting, and his pictures, which were freely copied shortly afterwards, were in many respects exemplary for spalliera painting.

While the first two paintings restricted themselves to the events in the novella, the third and fourth panels translated the story, which takes place in Ravenna, to the situation in Florence. The father of the bridegroom, Antonio Pucci, is portrayed on the third painting amidst the guests, and on the fourth is even shown in a group of other prominent public figures in the city. Above each of the banqueting tables are Florentine family coats of arms, on the left that of the father of the bridegroom, on the right that of the newly-founded Pucci-Bini family. In the centre, the Medici coat of arms is emblazoned. It is probable that Lorenzo de' Medici arranged the marriage.

Preview Picture Data Info
The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (first episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel, 83 x 138 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (detail of the first episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (detail of the first episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (second episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel, 82 x 138 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (detail of the second episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (detail of the second episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (third episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel, 83 x 142 cm
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (detail of the third episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel
Museo del Prado, Madrid


The Story of Nastagio degli Onesti (forth episode)
c. 1483
Tempera on panel, 83 x 142 cm
Private collection



Summary of works by Botticelli
| early paintings | late paintings |
religious paintings | page 1 | page 2 |
| Cappella Sistina | San Barnaba | San Marco |
| allegories | Nastagio | scenic stories | portraits |
| drawings | illustrations for Dante's Divine Comedy |



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