This popular piece was commissioned by the local trader Giovanni d'Agnolo de'Bardi and the impact made by it meant several accurate copies were made of it fairly soon afterwards. The content is believed to have been inspired by the work of Fra Angelico, though with Botticelli then innovating with his own ideas. He would alter the balance of the architecture, for instance. The artist replaced some of the stone constructs with a greater use of plants, particularly at the back of the painting. The myriad of foliage prevents the sky at the back from showing through. On the foreground the main figures are placed with two saints either side of the virgin and child. The latter would appear again in countless numbers of other portraits from across his career.
Sandro Botticelli would depict the Virgin and Child many times across his career, perhaps more than any other famous artist in memory. He found these portraits particularly easy to sell in the early part of his career and so it was an easy way to build up a list of patrons as he grew in confidence. He would, of course, later expand into all manner of other genres, including other types of religious figures. We can examine his madonna and child portraits together to learn much about his development as an artist, and also they can put up against other artists of that time to see how they went about this topic. By the end of his career Botticelli would have tried out almost any different combination that you can think of in terms of the placement of the figures in different ways, also sometimes adding other figures alongside them too on occasion, giving all manner of different results.
Religion has played a significant role in many artist's careers, and this was particularly the case in the Renaissance and Baroque eras. Botticelli was one of the more memorable contributors to that and he also was famous for bringing a senstive touch to his portraits. Another artist who achieved great things within religious genres was Spanish Baroque painter, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo. He appeared several centuries later but was similarly able to bring art to the masses with his accessible style that felt human and real. Whilst he also was successful in other genres as well, some of his real achievements included the likes of The Immaculate Conception of Los Venerables, The Holy Family with a Bird and also The Virgin of the Rosary. He is best served within the Prado Museum in Spain, with many artworks from his career dispersed widely across the rest of Europe.