In the 1480’s, the Florentine artist Sandro Botticelli found himself at the nucleus of one of the most celebrated periods in art history: the Italian Renaissance. His daring choice of secular subjects, infused with layer upon layer of ambiguity and innuendo, delighted his patron, Lorenzo de’ Medici. For the first time in a thousand years, the artist was employed for the purpose of entertaining, as opposed to teaching a biblical lesson or glorifying a monarch.
Ottorino Respighi wrote his Trittico Botticelliano for Elizabeth Sprague Coolidge, the American arts patroness who established music at the Library of Congress—the sponsorship of Mrs. Coolidge is legendary, producing works by Copland, Bartok, Poulenc, Ravel and this Triptych. As was so often the case with this Italian composer, he looked to antiquity for his inspiration, finding it in these three paintings pictured below by Sandro Botticelli.