Sandro Botticelli, Adoration of the Magi

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Sandro Botticelli

Adoration of the Magi (1470-74)

Botticelli painted this scene around 1470-74 for the Lama Chapel in Santa Maria Novella. Vasari claims that this painting gained Botticelli much of his fame in Italy. The painting was commissioned by Gaspare di Zanobi della Lama, a powerful Florentine banker from the Guild of Moneychangers with ties to the Medici family. 

Gaspari shared his name with one of the three Magi that visits the newborn Christ child in this image, indicating the reason that the patron chose this subject for his chapel. However, the visit of the three Magi to the Christ child was already a popular scene in Florence as the Medici commonly commissioned representations of this scene.

Cosimo de’ Medici and his two sons Piero and Giovanni assume the characters of the three Magi; Cosimo kneels in front of the Virgin, Piero appears in a red cloak at the center, and Giovanni kneels in white to Piero’s right. The patron himself assumes the figure of the white-haired man amongst the group of figures on the right. Gaspare looks out at the viewer, as does the man on the far right who likely represents Botticelli’s self portrait.


Legouix, Susan. Botticelli. London: Chaucer Press, 2004. Pg. 53.

Musée Luxembourg. Botticelli: From Lorenzo the Magnificent to Savonarola. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 2003. Pg 70.