Coming Soon

Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes

February 14 - May 19, 2019
Hostetter Gallery

Legendary painter Sandro Botticelli transformed ancient stories of lust, betrayal, and violence into Renaissance parables. In 1894, Isabella Stewart Gardner bought the Story of Lucretia, bringing the first Botticelli to America. Heroines + Heroes reunites her iconic Lucretia with its companion Virginia from the Accademia Carrara, Bergamo, a pair of paintings conceived for the Vespucci family palace in Florence. Together with additional extraordinary loans from Europe and the United States, this exhibition invites you to explore Botticelli's revolutionary narratives, as he reinvented ancient Roman and early Christian heroines and heroes as Renaissance role models. Contemporary responses by award-winning graphic novelist Karl Stevens forge connections between past and present, examining the legacy of these complex tales in our own era.

Explore this Exhibition

Explore this Exhibition


Read about Isabella's acquisition of the first Botticelli in the United States.


See all of the artworks in this exhibition up close.


Discover what our Conservation team found behind the Story of Lucretia.


At the center of this exhibition is a spalliera reunited: the Gardner’s Story of Lucretia and its companion the Story of Virginia (Accademia Carrara, Bergamo). Together with extraordinary loans of the same genre from European and American public collections, Heroines + Heroes explores Botticelli’s revolutionary approach to antiquity – from ancient Roman to early Christian – and offers a new perspective on his late career masterpieces.

Exhibition-Inspired Programming

Weekend Concert Series

Acronym: Alessandro Scarlatti's La caduta de'Decemviri

Scarlatti's unrecorded opera tells the story of Virginia, the hero of Roman republicanism, just in time to herald the Gardner's special exhibition, Botticelli: Heroines and Heroes.

Weekend Concert Series

The City of Women: with Oompa, Helga Davis, and George Steel

Helga Davis, the Gardner's second Visiting Curator for Performing Arts, collaborates with Abrams Curator of Music George Steel on a program that tells the stories of women.

Frank Hatch Free Day

Drawing Stories

Visit the Gardner on President's Day for free activities designed for visitors of all ages. Visitors under 12 must be accompanied by an adult.

Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes is supported in part by The Robert Lehman Foundation, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The Museum receives operating support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which receives support from the State of Massachusetts and the National Endowment for the Arts. 

Media Sponsor: The Boston Globe

The special exhibition preview and reception for Botticelli: Heroines + Heroes is generously sponsored by Bank of America.