Botticelli’s women

The Musée Jacquemart-André in Paris was a family house for years, having been created from the private home of Édouard André (1833–1894) and Nélie Jacquemart (1841–1912) to display the art they collected during their lives.

Edouard André, the scion of a Protestant banking family, devoted his considerable fortune to buying works of art. He married a well-known society painter, Nélie Jacquemart, who had painted his portrait 10 years earlier. Every year, the couple would travel around Italy, amassing one of the finest collections of Italian art in France. After his death, Nélie bequeathed the mansion and its collections to the Institut de France as a museum, and it opened to the public in 1913.

Madonna Campana by Alessandro Filipepi called Botticelli

It is a lovely, intimate space, reached via a courtyard hidden behind large dark green wooden doors. It holds eclectic exhibitions and the current one, of works by Botticelli (1445-1510) exceeded expectations.

Botticelli painted wonderful society portraits.

Portrait of Julien de Medici, commemorating his assassination in 1478

A master painter of the Renaissance in Italy, Botticelli’s career attests to the economic development and profound changes that transformed the rule of the Medicis.

Portrait of warrior and poet Michele Marullo Tarcaniota, who died by drowning when he fell from his horse while crossing a river

Botticelli excelled in painting women, whether as different incarnations of the Virgin Mary, or depicting allegorical goddesses such as the famous Venus Anadyomene painting (which is at the Uffizzi Palace in Florence.)

Madonna de Guidi de Faenza

There are few people to touch him for the purity of his lines or the expression in the eyes of those lovely faces.

Madonna al libro

Perhaps it is just me, but I tend to find, in images of the Virgin, that the artist always catches the right expression of purity combined with maternal love in the mother, but the baby Jesus always looks disgruntled, like a little old man with an infant’s body. This is true in Byzantine icons, too.

Allegorical figure of La Bella Simonetta. Made a few years after her death.

And of course, those wonderful nudes depicting Venus. The black background brings out the luminosity of the subject.

Botticelli made a few, all different.


Something I didn’t know is that, in later years, Botticelli came under the influence of the monk Savonarola, and that gave his work a not-so-pleasant dimension. Of course, by then he was old for the standards of the age, and perhaps he could not see very well, so much of the work was made by assistants.

The details of this painting are so much coarser that it is almost a shock

As a whole, an exhibition to fill one with joy. There were many little treasures to discover, such as drawings on silk, or this little jewel, a small panel, part of a series.

15 thoughts on “Botticelli’s women”

  1. I visited this museum years ago in a “normal” day, i.e., no temporary expositions. The house is breathtaking and their collection, even more so. Unforgettable visit. But taking photos was forbidden then – did the rule change since?
    At a time when the Louvre’s annual budget to buy objects of art was 50 thousand francs a year, this couple’s was 200 thousand francs. They have the most enchanting Fragonard, did you see it?


    1. Yes. I’ve been there a few times, I love it. Even the restaurant is cosy. Everyone was taking photos so I suppose it’s ok. I’d like to know more about the couple—it all seems very romantic, but apparently they got married without having a relationship really. Do you know if there are any books about them?


      1. No idea about a book/biography, but years ago I was told that they had a marriage of convenience – both were middle-aged (when they got married he was 55, she was maybe 46), rich and single, had no children from previous relationships and loved art and travel. Bedrooms separated by a bathroom… Made in Heaven if you ask me. Wikipedia has a short entry for her and an even shorter one in English.


  2. You are teaching me matters I should myself have realized way back when . . . Have seen a number of Botticelli’s but never been in the particular gallery – thanks ! And “Jesus does look uptight scrolling up-and-down 🙂 !


  3. Marina! This is absolutely wonderful! Every year I introduce my preschool class to art, in a big way, including Botticelli. I was in Florence one time, and visited the Uffizzi. I was stunned at the size of Birth of Venus. It is huge! I feel lucky to have seen one Botticelli, and now you have given me many more. Thank you! The history of the Medici family is fascinating. Our daughter was married at “town hall” in Florence, which happens to be the Palazzo Vecchio.

    Liked by 1 person

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