Researchers Have Named Sandro Botticelli as the Artist Behind Several Previously Anonymous Preparatory Drawings


Three preparatory drawings have been newly attributed to Sandro Botticelli as a result of research conducted ahead of a landmark exhibition on the Renaissance master.

Research conducted ahead of a landmark Sandro Botticelli exhibition has led to three preparatory drawings for major paintings being attributed to the Renaissance master.

“Botticelli Drawings,” which was organized by the Legion of Honor museum in San Francisco will stage 60 works lent from 42 institutions. The show aims to bring attention to the importance of draftsmanship in Botticelli’s practice. It is due to run from November 18 to February 11, 2024.

The discoveries were made following extensive research by Furio Rinaldi, curator of drawings and prints at Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco (FAMSF), which operates the Legion of Honor. The preparatory drawings are connected to the paintings , , and . This last painting will be presented alongside the drawing following a loan from the Louvre.


Sandro Botticelli, “Head of a man in near profile looking left”, c. 1468-70. Image: Christ Church Picture Gallery.

“I am thrilled to share my new findings,” Rinaldi said in a statement. “These new proposed attributions will help lay the groundwork for a fuller understanding of Botticelli’s artistic output and the field of Italian Renaissance art at large.”

What’s more, the exhibition promises to make several further attributions at a later date, a museum representative confirmed to Artnet News in an email.

Despite Botticelli’s legacy and enduring imprint on popular culture today—the exhibition cites the likes of Cindy Sherman and Jean Paul Gaultier as devotees—his drawings have received limited attention. This is partly due to the small number of existing drawings—fewer than 30 attributed works. A further difficulty is that Botticelli’s drawings are often stylistically different from larger painted works.


Sandro Botticelli “Two partial studies of a profile” c.1475 Image: courtesy Uffizi Gallery

The preparatory drawings for and are part of the collection of Oxford’s Christ Church Picture Gallery and were previously cited as the work of an anonymous 15th-century artist. Rinaldi arrived at his conclusion following a technical and stylistic analysis and believes the drawings were probably cut from the same sheet of paper.

The third attributed drawing is from the Uffizi Gallery’s graphic holdings. Rinaldi is confident that the likeness between the profile of the Archangel Gabriel in the sketch and painting makes it a match.


Sandro Botticelli, detail of “Cestello Annunciation” 1489. Image: courtesy Uffizi Gallery

“Furio Rinaldi has done exceptional research in the years leading up to our Botticelli exhibition,” said Thomas P. Campbell, director of the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. “It promises to be a groundbreaking presentation on the centrality of draftsmanship to this world-renowned artist’s practice.”

See more images of works that will be on display at Legion of Honor museum below.


Sandro Botticelli, “The Devout Jews at Pentecost,” ca. 1505. Image: courtesy Hessisches Landesmuseum Darmstadt.



Sandro Botticelli, “Virgin and Child with Young St John the Baptist”, 1470-1475. Image: Print Collector/Getty Images from Louvre Museum.


Sandro Botticelli, “Judith with the Head of Holofernes,” ca. 1497-1500. Image: courtesy Rijksmuseum.



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