Landscape paintings are always my favourite when it comes to headers for my blog site. And there can be no more evocative wide paintings than the three depictions of the Battle of San Romano by Paulo Uccello. And how about the locations for these great works: The National Gallery in London, The Galleria degli Uffizi in Florence and the Musée du Louvre in Paris.
The Battle of San Romano, then, in the National Gallery is my new header, featuring The Florentine commander, Niccolò da Tolentino, riding a white charger and wearing a magnificent red and gold hat. This painting is a study of the foreshortening and scientific perspective employed by Ucello in the second half of the fifteenth century in Florence. The painting of course was commissioned by the rich Medici banking dynasty.
Paulo Uccello (1397-1475) painted these three masterpieces between 1450 – 1455, commemorating the famous Florentine military victory over the Sienese and Milanese alliance some thirty years earlier. Interestingly, the Sienese believe they won the battle, but there are no paintings dedicated to that city. So even in the quattrocento it was important to be in control of the press and especially the ‘cameras’!
Uccello was born in Florence and apprenticed in sculpture to the famous sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti. It is as a perspective painter he became renowned. Vasari, in his history, recounted how the painter would stay awake all night calculating the positions of the components in his scenes.
As he grew old he became marginalised and disillusioned. His last painting was another masterpiece of perspective, though, The Hunt in the Forest (c1470), which can be seen in the Ashmolean in Oxford.