09 November 2013

Uccello, close-up

A friend of mine just revealed to me how to 'steal' images from the net, so I immediately went to the National Gallery and ripped these details from their site. There is so much in this monumental painting that I find myself at a loss where to begin. 

I remember once telling a friend about it, my enthusiasm brimming over with a certain ecstatic certainty. She looked at me rather queerly and simply said:

"But its old! What's the point of looking at these kinds of things?"

When I recovered from my surprise, and dismay, I quickly clammed up. But a few months later we were in Paris together and I took her to see another version of this motif by Paulo Uccello which hangs there. That too, is The Battle of San Romano. I will post it  another time. 

Anyway, I was unable to convey that particular sense of joy which I feel right down to the bottom of my toes in front of these things which are in fact over 500 years old. This painting is just as alive today as it was when it was painted. In fact, one cannot experience this painting (in situ) quite like seeing these digital images. I have slightly brightened them for better clarity. I really think that this painting is one of the very greatest achievements in the visual Arts since, well, the beginning of Time. This is pure painting, it is an abstract machine of visual pleasure. Enjoy!

this (below) is lifted from the National Gallery website

This brilliantly structured and colourful painting depicts part of the battle of San Romano that was fought between Florence and Siena in 1432. The central figure is Niccolò da Mauruzi da Tolentino on his white charger, the leader of the victorious Florentine forces, who is identifiable by the motif of 'Knot of Solomon' on his banner.

This panel is one of a set of three showing incidents from the same battle. The other two are in the Louvre, Paris, and the Uffizi, Florence. This painting and its two companion panels were commissioned by the Bartolini Salimbeni family in Florence sometime between 1435 and 1460: only the Uffizi panel is signed. Lorenzo de' Medici so coveted them that he had them forcibly removed to the Medici palace.

The pictures may originally have had arched tops designed to fit below Gothicvaults. They were made into rectangular panels in the 15th century, possibly by Uccello himself. Uccello was much preoccupied with one point linear perspective, seen here in the foreshortening of shapes and arrangement of broken lances.


  1. Thank you for these! This is one of my favorite paintings, and seeing the details makes me love it even more: that brocade hat the man on the white horse is wearing, and the glowing oranges... Wow.

    The painting doesn't feel outdated to me--historical, but not outdated. The people and animals are real. The bottom close-up of the fresh faced youth next to the knight in full face armour--just his eyes peering out--could there be a more fitting comment on war? Still the same today.

  2. thanks for this! You have, may I say, very strange friends (inParis, I mean).