Learn About Paolo Uccello in Art History, View His Art and Famous Paintings


"The Hunt in the Forest” Paolo Uccello, 1465-70

Paolo Uccello, 1397-1475, one of Italy's famous artists in art history was consumed with art perspective. Unable to paint light effects and atmospheric perspective in landscapes, his lines and edges were harsh, causing along with strict perspective, works of art that looked staged and not true to life.

One of Ucello's few, and earliest known famous paintings (a fresco) is "Sir John Hawkwood", painted in 1436. Title: Strangely, the fresco has two points of perspective, one for the pedestal and another for the horse and rider.

Standing directly in front of the pedestal, the first one point perspective projects downward below the picture frame, seen by following orthogonal lines created along the right and left pedestal edges. If Uccello had remained consistent with this perspective throughout the fresco, we would be looking at the stomach of the horse, the feet and stirrups, and little else of the rider.

The second perspective involving the horse and rider only is seen head on looking at the rider about mid-leg. Known to have a sense of humor, and to be a bit unconventional Uccello probably painted the entire picture originally in the first mentioned perspective. The fresco was rejected, and he repainted the horse and rider in the second perspective.

Paolo Uccello was consumed with the scientific art perspective of space, possibly influenced by Alberti. In 1445 he painted "Battle of San Romano", left panel, one of three panels, all hanging in currently in different museums. Title: "Battle of San Romano" uses a deep point perspective painted without shadow and atmospheric effect.

The figures and horses are embroiled in the heat of a great battle, but the reality of the struggle is lost to object stylization and overwhelming decorative pattern, a style characteristic of Gothic Art painting.

Uccello organizes the battle scene to look like a staged play instead of happening on the rolling hills of Nature. Everything is planned so carefully that even the broken lances have fallen to the ground along orthogonal lines. A dead soldier doesn't fall crumpled to the ground, but falls lining up with one point perspective. Ucello fills in the deep background space with soldiers pursuing the enemy, hand-to-hand combat figures, animals, and peasants going about their daily business bringing grapes to the wine press.

Another of Paolo Uccello's greatest surviving famous paintings, even though damaged, is the fresco "Deluge", 1445-47. Title: The lunette fresco is two scenes combined into one of Noah's Ark overlapping in the middle. The Ark on the left side floats on water during a thunderstorm and a straight bolt of lightning strikes near the stern. Figures attack the Ark and each other knowing their fate, others attach themselves to anything that floats.

The Ark on the right is a picture of the Ark on dry ground. Noah leans out a window over drowned bodies. The orthogonal lines of both Arks create the one point perspective characteristic of Uccello. Other famous artists of the Renaissance in art history are Pierro Della Francesca and Domenico Veneziano.

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