(b. 1444, Firenze, d. 1510, Firenze)

St Augustine

Fresco, 152 x 112 cm
Ognissanti, Florence

Botticelli learned the basic techniques associated with fresco painting while working for his teacher, Filippo Lippi. We know of documents, telling of paintings that have since been destroyed, that Botticelli was greatly in demand as a master of fresco paintings during the last three decades of the Quattrocento. He painted for the Vespucci family the St Augustine in the church of Ognissanti. It was created in competition with Ghirlandaio's fresco of St Jerome.

St Augustine has been interrupted at his studies. He is deeply moved as he raises his eyes, and, in an expansive gesture, lays his right hand to his chest: for he is seeing a vision of the death of St Jerome.

The entablature at the top is an architectural feature which Botticelli continued into the depth of the picture, in order to place a row of large books and astronomical instruments on it. Botticelli shows the room and the saint from a low angle which enables the artist to give greater emphasis to Augustine's dramatic gesture.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.