Just Your Average Mental Breakdown: Mystic Nativity

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Just Your Average Mental Breakdown
Artists Losing It
Curated by Drew Bierwirth


Botticelli, Mystic Nativity, 1500

Spurred by Girolamo Savonarola, Botticelli's art style evolved completely, twisting into something far different from anything he had done before. The colors were darker and the subject matter even more so.

Here, Botticelli depicts his own Nativity scene, but it looks more apocalyptic. Botticelli's transformation from Birth of Venus to this piece required not just his own mental transformation, but also inspiration from one already farther gone than him. Savonarola was a fanatic religious reformer, and one who targeted Botticelli's prime benefactor: Lorenzo Medici. Lorenzo fell victim to harsh criticism from Savonarola, who preached of fire and brimstone for the immoral and for aristocrats. He also railed against the general corruption of the Catholic Church.These sermons, witnessed by Botticelli, had profound effects on both his work and his social standings. Savonarola took Botticelli from the brightest fame to the darkest anonymity, this piece being one of his final works after Savonarola's death. Caught up in the fervor and fear that zealotry wrought upon the public, Botticelli's art metamorphosed from his light, detailed religious pieces to brooding, apocalyptic scenes that brilliantly reflected the fear in his heart of divine judgement all too well.

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