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Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries and Historical Sites

“The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello (Uffizi Gallery)

Uccello Battle of San Romano Uffizi

“The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello

“The Battle of San Romano” by Paolo Uccello is a set of three paintings depicting events that took place at a battle between Florentine and Sienese forces in 1432. This painting is exhibited at the Galleria Uffizi, Florence and the other two companion paintings are shown at the National Gallery, London and the Musée du Louvre, Paris. The three pictures were designed to be hung high on three different walls in one large room, and the perspective was created for that purpose which accounts for anomalies in the perspective when viewed at standard gallery height.

This panel was designed to be the central painting of the triptych and is the only one signed by the artist. The sequence most widely agreed among art historians is The London panel, followed by the Uffizi and then the Louvre panel. They also represent different times of day starting with dawn (London), mid-day (Florence) and dusk (Paris) as the battle lasted eight hours. In the foreground, broken lances and a dead soldier are aligned to create perspective. Painted with a view similar to that of a tapestry, the landscape rises up in a picture rather than receding into the background. The illusion of a backdrop resembles a stage and war is depicted as a theatrical event.

The painting incorporates gold leaf in the decorations of the bridles, which has remained bright. Unlike the silver leaf, used on the armour of the soldiers, which has oxidised to a dull grey or black. The original impression of the burnished silver would have been dazzling. All of the paintings have suffered from age and prior restorations.

Paolo Uccello was an Italian painter notable for his pioneering work on visual perspective in art. Uccello was obsessed by perspective and worked hard to create the perfect vanishing point. He used perspective to create a feeling of depth in his paintings. Working in the Late Gothic tradition, he emphasised colour and pageantry rather than classical realism.

Exploring

Reflections

  • Painted and hung as if it was a tapestry, was this painted because it was cheaper to paint than create a tapestry?

The Battle of San Romano

  • Title:                The Battle of San Romano
  • Artist:              Paolo Uccello
  • Created:          1438-40
  • Medium:        tempera on panel
  • Dimensions:  182 × 317 cm
  • Museum:        Uffizi Gallery

Paolo Uccello

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“Art is never finished, only abandoned.”
– Leonardo da Vinci

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Photo Credit 1) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], from Wikimedia Commons

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