The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello

Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello

This painting is just the central panel of a large triptych painted by Paolo Uccello approximately in 1438, now dispersed and divided between the Uffizi, the National Gallery in London and the Louvre in Paris.
The cycle depicts three events occurred during the Battle of San Romano that took place in 1432 between Florence and Siena and that marked the glorious victory of Florence. The work was commissioned by the wealthy Bartolini family but in 1492 it was included already in the inventory of Lorenzo de’ Medici, known as “the Magnificent”.

What makes this cycle a masterpiece is the bold and experimental use of the perspective who made Uccello famous.

The panel of the Uffizi depicts the unhorsing of Bernardino della Ciarda, leader of Sienese mercenaries. The soldier is the man on the white horse just in the center, hit by an enemy spear. The composition is very crowded, but despite that the atmosphere is somewhat unreal and the knights look like fake dummies of a medieval tournament. Paolo Uccello is more interested in the perspective and its application than in the human feelings.

The naturalistic details, the hunting scenes in the background, the finicky description of the armors and the horses remind us of the fairy-tale gothic aestethics. Paolo Uccello is indeed an important transition artist, fully in love with the Renaissance revolution of Renaissance but winking at the gothic tradition.

The Battle of San Romano by Paolo Uccello has been recently restored, but in November 2012 it has been replaced in the hall #7 of the Early Renaissance.