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Dissecting Botticelli’s Adoration of the Magi

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The scene of the three wise men offering gifts to a newborn Jesus was widely painted during the Renaissance era, so how did painter Sandro Botticelli create a version that's still well known today? James Earle describes who and what set Botticelli's Adoration of the Magi apart in the annals of art history.

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  • Director Candy Kugel
  • Educator James Earle
  • Producer Marilyn Kraemer
  • Narrator James Earle

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Sandro Botticelli was an Italian painter and draughtsman. During his lifetime he was one of the most acclaimed painters in Italy, being summoned to take part in the decoration of the Sistine Chapel in Rome and earning the patronage of the leading families of Florence, including the Medici.
The House of Medici was a political dynasty, banking family, and, later, royal house that first began to gather prominence under Cosimo de' Medici in the Republic of Florence during the late 14th century. The family originated in the Mugello region of the Tuscan countryside, gradually rising until they were able to found the Medici Bank. The bank was the largest in Europe during the 15th century, seeing the Medici gain political power in Florence — though officially they remained simply citizens rather than monarchs.
See James Earle's other lesson. After Rome was destroyed, people were wary of attachment to physical beauty. As Christianity gained traction, Romans instead began to focus on the metaphysical beauty of virtue, and art began to follow suit. James Earle discusses how Medieval paintings of Madonna were affected by this shift.
Check out all the TED-Ed Lessons about visual art.

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About TED-Ed Originals

TED-Ed Original lessons feature the words and ideas of educators brought to life by professional animators. Are you an educator or animator interested in creating a TED-Ed original? Nominate yourself here »

Meet The Creators

  • Director Candy Kugel
  • Educator James Earle
  • Producer Marilyn Kraemer
  • Narrator James Earle

Share

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