Sandro Botticelli. The Annunciation, ca. 1490-1495. Oil, tempera, gold lead on walnut panel. Courtesy of The Legion of Honor.

Botticelli Drawings Coming to The Legion

November brings a major fine art exhibition to our Legion of Honor, which draws together the complete graphic output of one of the world’s most famous artists for the first time.

Running from November 19, 2023–February 11, 2024 “Botticelli Drawings” presents the beloved Renaissance artist like never before.

A quintessential artist of the Italian Renaissance, Alessandro di Mariano di Vanni Filipepi—better known as Sandro Botticelli—has had an enduring influence on contemporary culture, from art and design to dance, music, fashion, and film. Known for some of the world’s greatest paintings, from La Primavera (1477–1482) to the Birth of Venus (1485–1486), Botticelli has inspired the likes of artists Andy Warhol, Jean Paul Gaultier, and Cindy Sherman, among others. He was an expert draftsman, creating drawings that underlie and animate his greatest compositions. Although key to the aesthetic driving his continued relevance and popularity, there has been no major exhibition dedicated to Botticelli’s art of drawing—until now.

Pairing Botticelli’s graphic output as a whole from the Gallerie degli Uffizi, Florence; British Museum, London; and The Morgan Library & Museum, New York alongside key paintings on loan from The National Gallery, London; the Galleria Borghese, Rome; and the Musée du Louvre, Paris, Botticelli Drawings offers a rare opportunity to explore the artistic process behind such renowned works as The Adoration of the Magi (1475–1476), reunited here with three preparatory designs.

A prolific portraitist, he made a practice of drawing from life, one that would become an artistic standard in Renaissance Florence and beyond. Yet despite the centrality of drawing to Botticelli’s work, less than three dozen confirmed drawings by the artist survive today. The hardships he experienced later in life, including penury and the decline of his workshop business, may have led to the loss of the vast majority of Botticelli’s graphic output.