Ronald Lightbown

Ronald Lightbown

Ronald Lightbown is a leading scholar in the field of Renaissance art. From 1975 to 1984 he served as the keeper of the library at London's Victoria and Albert Museum, and from then until 1989 as keeper of the department of metalwork there. His widely praised publications include the first edition of Sandro Botticelli (1978), French Secular Medieval Goldsmith's Work: A History (1978), Donatello and Michelozzo: An Artistic Partnership and Its Patrons in the Early Renaissance (1980), Mantegna (1986), and Piero della Francesca (1992), as well as numerous articles and museum catalogs.


Life and Work


The paintings of Sandro Botticelli are some of the most deeply loved works ever created. But the direct and immediate beauty of such paintings as the Primavera, the Birth of Venus, and Pallas and the Centaur, with their lyrical forms and luminous color, belie a complex and sophisticated iconography—the product of an artist and a time of highly refined sensibilities.When Ronald Lightbown published his monograph on Botticelli in 1978, it was immediately recognized as the definitive work on the subject, one that thoroughly delineated the Renaissance master's life and work and disentangled many of the enigmas associated with his remarkable body of painting. But the subsequent cleaning and restoration of many of Botticelli's most famous works, which began in 1978, has necessitated a reassessment of his remarkable technique and dazzling use of color, and has provided a splendid opportunity for Lightbown to revise his landmark study.

While this beautiful new edition performs the important task of analyzing recent scholarly advances, it also presents for the first time a full complement of color images for each of Botticelli's autograph paintings, as well as dozens of spectacular details—over 217 plates, many full page. Specially commissioned photography of the Sistine frescoes and other newly cleaned masterpieces reveal Botticelli's vibrant use of color as never before. A selection of his drawings and workshop pictures and paintings by contemporaries such as Fra Filippo Lippi round out this definitive presentation.

Every aspect of the Florentine painter's art is examined and illustrated in this beautiful and scholarly volume: his devotional work (frescoes, altarpieces, tondi), his portraits, his illustrations to Dante's Divine Comedy, his secular paintings, and his representations of classical myth. The book begins by describing Botticelli's family, early life, and apprenticeship to Fra Filippo Lippi. Then follows a discussion of the development of his career, his emergence as an independent master, and his stay in Rome to help fresco the newly completed Sistine Chapel.

Carefully and gracefully, Lightbown relates Botticelli's paintings to the complex and contradictory culture of fifteenth-century Florence, a society that combined worldly pageantry with piety, classical learning with vernacular vigor. Lightbown focuses particularly on the artist's relationship with the Medici as well as other prominent Florentine families, and concludes with a discussion of the intense, highly wrought paintings of his last years.

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