The world of Sandro Botticelli: artists, patrons, humanists

Level: BA, 2nd or 3rd year, MA-students will be asked to produce an extended paper

Professor: Gert Jan van der Sman, PhD.

Location: Dutch University Institute for Art History, Florence (NIKI)

Dates: 11-19 February 2023 (Florence), introductory lectures (online) January 2023, deadline paper 17 March 2023

Credits: 6 ECTS (168 hours)

Costs: € 15 euro per person per night (museum visits and travel expenses not included)

Course description

During this course we will investigate Sandro Botticelli’s contacts with fellow artists, patrons and humanists. Over the past decades much research has been done on Botticelli’s social position and his place in the Florentine art world. His artistic trajectory is best understood against the backdrop of his social network and the need to distinguish himself from other artists of his generation. We will analyse Botticelli’s relationships with other key figures of the Florentine Renaissance. The students will become familiar with examples of rivalry and competition (Pollaiuolo, Ghirlandaio, Leonardo da Vinci), as well as examples of cooperation and friendship (the poet and scholar Angelo Poliziano, members of the Vespucci family, Lorenzo di Pierfrancesco de’ Medici). Due weight will furthermore be given to the logistic of artistic production in late 15th-century Florence. Botticelli’s life and work will therefore be examined from different perspectives in order to uncover the links between art, history and humanist culture.

Course objectives

To gain familiarity with an array of critical approaches to Italian Renaissance art. Special attention will be paid to interpreting works of art in relation to social and cultural contexts. Reading research will be combined with formal analysis and close examination of documentary evidence, contemporary treatises and literary texts. Finally the combination of class discussions and assignments will aid the students to develop their mastery of academic skills such as critical thinking and writing a paper

For further information see

To apply

Please send your cv with GPA and letter of motivation before 1 December 2022 to sman@nikiflorence.org

To apply

Please send your cv with GPA and letter of motivation before 1 December  2022 to sman@nikiflorence.org

Early 2023, dr. Gert Jan van der Sman will teach a new course on the renaissance artist Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) in which his art production will be put in interdisciplinary perspectives to consider the links between art, history, and humanism.

This course is for students enrolled in BA years 2 and 3 and (Res)MA students of one of the participating Dutch universities.

Introductory classes will take place online at the end of January 2021. Participants will stay at the NIKI in Florence between February 11 and 18/19, 2023. They will follow on-site classes, excursions to churches and museums, and will work in the library of the institute on their own research assignment, of which they will present the proceedings at the end of the week. After the stay at the Institute, the students will write an essay (deadline March 197 2023). MA students will be assigned a larger assignment.

Students have to get permission to enroll in this course at their own university as well as discuss the number of credits (EC).

The application deadline is 1 December 2021. The application can be sent through email to Gert Jan van der Sman.

January 2023

Introductory meeting, initial assignment

The study and reception of Botticelli and his work: from the Aesthetic Movement to technical studies

The early career of Botticelli

Programme Florence

Saturday 11 February: arrival at the NIKI

Sunday 12 February: introduction to the library and tour through the city

Monday 13 February: lectures, assignment research topics

Tuesday 14 February: visits to the Ognissanti, Santa Maria della Scala, Santa Maria Novella

Wednesday 15 Februari: lecture, visit to the Galleria degli Uffizi

Thursday 16 Februari: visit to the Galleria dell’Accademia, Ospedale degli Innocenti, evaluation research topics

Friday 17 February: visit to Villa Tornabuoni Lemmi, self study

Saturday 18 Februari: presentations of the participants

Sunday 19 February: departure

17 March 2022: deadline term papers

Please send your cv with GPA and letter of motivation before December 12th 2021 to sman@nikiflorence.org