Art e Dossier

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Art History

Paolo Uccello: biography

Documentary sources tell us that the young Paolo worked with Ghiberti from 1407 to 1412 while the sculpture was making the first door of the baptistery in Florence. Perhaps his apprenticeship lasted until 1416, but it is possible that his training was also influenced by the late-Gothic art of Gherardo Starnina. He became a member of the Guild of Physicians and Herbalists, to which painters belonged, sometime between 1414 and 1415, and in 1424 joined the Compagnia di San Luca. The following year he journeyed to Venice where he stayed for five years and did the mosaic of St. Peter on the façade of St. Mark’s Basilica. In 1431 – but there is no consensus as to the date – he painted Scenes from Genesis in the Green Cloister of Santa Maria Novella in Florence. Between 1434 and 1435 he frescoed Scenes from the Life of the Virgin and Scenes from the Life of St. Stephen in the Prato cathedral. In 1436 he signed and dated the fresco of an Equestrian Monument to Sir John Hawkwood in Santa Maria del Fiore. In the mid-eighties Paolo Uccello was a highly successful painter on the Florentine artistic scene and was called to the cathedral (1443-1445) to draw the cartoons of the Resurrection and the Nativity stained glass windows. Perhaps it was Donatello who summoned him to Padua in 1445 where he painted a lost cycle with Illustrious Men or Giants in Palazzo Vitaliani. Upon his return to Florence he worked on Scenes from Monastic Legends in the cloister of San Miniato al Monte, and again in the Green Cloister of Santa Maria Novella, with “The Flood”. The chronology of the three panels with the Battle of San Romano that were originally in the Palazzo Medici is uncertain, while his St. George and the Dragon (now in Paris) is documented as having been painted in 1465. Between 1465 and 1468 he went to Urbino several times where he painted six panels with The Profanation of the Host, the predella of the Communion of the Apostles for Giusto di Gand. In 1469 he reported to the registry office that he was living with his invalid wife in a state of dire poverty. In Paolo Uccello’s works the late-gothic and courtly taste for the fantastic combine with the modern research on perspective, with results that range from the monumental to the powerfully dramatic to the fabulous and sometimes even surreal.

The works