Botticelli’s style is unique amongst his peers in late Quattrocento Florence: figures seemingly without bones and not casting shadows, with a decorative elegance unlike the realism of his peers. If you look closely, you’ll see that he outlined faces and bodies with a thin black line, a technique he passed on to his student Filippino Lippi. Botticelli never wed and expressed a strong aversion to the idea of marriage, a prospect he claimed gave him nightmares. It is said that he suffered from an unrequited love for Simonetta Vespucci, a married noblewoman, according to popular belief, the model for The Birth of Venus, despite the fact that she had died years earlier. She is also represented in a very flattering portrait in the Uffizi.
Botticelli may be most famous for his mythological works and secular portraits, but he was very religious, and produced more Madonna paintings and altarpieces than anything else. In old age, Botticelli was one of the followers of the deeply moralistic friar Savonarola, who preached in Florence from 1490 until his execution in 1498. After Savonarola’s death, Botticelli was never the same: “he was induced to desert his painting, and, having no income to live on, fell into very great distress.” (G. Vasari). In 1491, he served on a committee to decide upon a façade for the Cathedral of Florence. His ideas must have been valuable, for although old and practically inactive, in 1504, Botticelli was included among the members of the committee responsible for choosing the most suitable location for Michelangelo's David. In modern times, his legacy is carried all the way into outer space: an impact crater on the surface of the planet Mercury is called Botticelli in his honor.