della Francesca achieved in his works a synthesis between shape and colour
based upon perspective theories.
artist was born in Borgo San Sepolcro (Arezzo) in 1440 and educated in
Florence alongside Domenico Venziano. He travelled between Ferrara and
Rimini, enriching towns culturally with his knowledge accumulated from a
combination of lectures by Leon Battista Alberti and also from Flemish
These components shine through in his works, where the composition rigours,
the solid geometric shapes and the perspective balance combine to
demonstrate his meticulous attention to detail and the delicacy in
production and use of tricks of light.
Take a minute to observe the transparency through the glass of the window
or the reflection of light on the jewels and veils in compositions such as
di Senigallia which is conserved in the National Gallery
of Le Marche in Urbino. The composition,
a synthesis between Flemish realism and a quest for symmetry and also the
simple volumes of the Italian Humanism, are testimony to the good
relationship of Piero of the Francesca with the court urbinate Federico of
Montefeltro, which developed around the 1460s.
It was for the duke that the artist also carried out the celebrated Flagellazione (in Urbino the national Gallery of the Marches),
mysterious in its meaning and yet clear and sharp in its production, and
also the diptych – a two panel painting of Federico of Montefeltro and
his wife Ritratti
di Federico da Montefeltro e di Batiste Sforza.(1465). The two
ceremonial portraits, today in Florence’s Uffizi, recapture the medal
pose typical of the representation of
roman emperors on coins, Piero della Francesca placed the two
profiles on a naturalistic background (the hills of Montefeltro)
and portrays them with detail and realism.
The two works had been designed to be placed beside each other, so that
the expression of the dukes met, therefore the landscape runs with
continuity from one to the other. Another masterpiece connecting the
artist to Le Marche is the famous Pala
Montefeltro, one of the finest examples of Italian painting of the
1400s, today conserved in the Pinacoteca di Brera in Milan but originally
placed in the church of Saint Bernardino in Urbino (where Federico of
Montefeltro was buried).
The architecture represented on the canvas reproduces exactly the inside
of the church.
The shape of the egg that hangs from the shell basin, symbol of the
Immaculate conception but also heraldic emblem of Montefeltro, re-echoed
in a movement of ovals that increase (the head of the Madonna, the
absidale basin), becoming almost the centre of the majestic elevated
installation in which is placed the Madonna with the Child, the saints,
the angels and the duke knelt down in adoration.
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