The second Sala di Botticelli has not the value of the first. It has magnificent examples of Botticelli’s sacred work, but the other pictures are not the equal of those in the other rooms. Chief of the Botticellis is No. 85, “The Virgin and Child with divers Saints,” in which there are certain annoying and restless elements. One feels that in the accessories—the flooring, the curtains, and gilt—the painter was wasting his time, while the Child is too big. Botticelli was seldom too happy with his babies. But the face of the Saint in green and blue on the left is most exquisitely painted, and the Virgin has rather less troubled beauty than usual. The whole effect is not quite spiritual, and the symbolism of the nails and the crown of thorns held up for the Child to see is rather too cruel and obvious. I like better the smaller picture with the same title—No. 88—in which the Saints at each side are wholly beautiful in Botticelli’s wistful way, and the painting of their heads and head-dresses is so perfect as to fill one with a kind of despair. But taken altogether one must consider Botticelli’s triumph in the Accademia to be pagan rather than sacred.
No. 8, called officially School of Verrocchio, and by one firm of photographers Botticini, and by another Botticelli, is a fine free thing, low in colour, with a quiet landscape, and is altogether a delight. It represents Tobias and the three angels, and Raphael moves nobly, although not with quite such a step as the radiant figure in a somewhat similar picture in our own National Gallery—No. 781—which, once confidently given to Verrocchio, is now attributed to Botticini; while our No. 296, which the visitor from Florence on returning to London should hasten to examine, is no longer Verrocchio but School of Verrocchio. When we think of these attributions and then look at No. 154 in the Accademia—another Tobias and the Angel, here given to Botticini—we have a concrete object lesson in the perilous career that awaits the art expert,