Published to accompany the V&A's major spring exhibition, Botticelli Reimagined, 5 March to 3 July 2016 The Florentine painter Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) is one of the greatest artists of all time. Rewned for the iconic Birth of Venus and Primavera, his work has become part of our collective visual memory, influencing product development, fashion design and artists as diverse as Andy Warhol, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Rene Magritte and Jeff Koons. But Botticelli's fame today was by means a foregone conclusion. Quickly forgotten after his death, he was only rediscovered as an artist in the nineteenth century - and much of what we kw of his work has been pieced together from fragmentary evidence; only three of his works are signed or documented. Since then, 'Botticelli' has been interpreted in many different ways, and has led to many questions. How does a painter acquire international fame? What made Botticelli a pop icon? Why are his works considered timeless? What is it that makes him so 'European' that his Venus appears on the 10 cent coin?What we can say - safely - is that Botticelli, more than any other Old Master, inspired and continues to inspire modern and contemporary art.
Mark Evans is the senior curator of paintings at the Victoria and Albert Museum. He has written extensively on painting and is the author of numerous books on art, including John Constable: The Making of a Master. Stefan Weppelmann is director of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna.