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SANDRO BOTTICELLI

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THE TRAGEDY OF LUCRETIA, 1499-1500

About the Artwork

The style of Botticelli’s paintings from the last decade of his life, beginning with such works as the Tragedy of Lucretia, is dramatically different from that of his earliest career. In part this change may be attributable to Botticelli's shift to the fashionable medium of oil paints, a shift he was never comfortable making, having been one of the century's greatest technicians in the use of tempera paints. Scholars have also seen in the stiffening of Botticelli’s late style proof of Vasari’s claim that the artist was physically debilitated at the end of his life. Whether this story be fact or fiction, Botticelli’s late works betray no perceptible diminution in his power of expression or in his compositional genius. The Tragedy of Lucretia is certainly one of the great masterpieces of Florentine painting from the last years of probably its greatest period, the golden age of the fifteenth century.

Source: Laurence Kanter (1997), "The Tragedy of Lucretia," in Eye of the Beholder, edited by Alan Chong et al. (Boston: ISGM and Beacon Press, 2003): 69

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