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By Dillian Gordon

. lge fmt, 1981 illus, 2223pp

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The underdrawing shows through clearly in places, particularly in the drawing of Joseph and the shepherds. It may be that the painting remained unfinished because Piero went blind in his old age. As late as the 17th century it was still in the possession of his heirs in San Sepolcro. 34 "#,"4,' 35 Italian School Paolo c. 20 Paolo Uccello, Paul the Bird, was so called because he loved birds, and kept his house full of pictures or birds, as well as of cats and dogs. And he loved perspective. The 16th-century biographer, Vasari, grumbled that Uccello would have been the most captivating and imaginative painter to have lived since Giotto, 'if only he had spent as much time on human figures and animals as he spent, and wasted, on the finer points of Here the broken lances arranged artificially on the ground lead toward a single vanishing point, and show Uccello, like the other contemporary Florentine painters, preoccupied with the possibilities of perspective'.

Piero was born in San Sepolcro (where he would, incidentally, have seen Sassetta's altarpiece: see p. 27). The naturalistic landscape background is recognisably the countryside around San Sepolcro, and painted with the same familiarity with which Constable was to depict the Suffolk landscape associated with his boyhood. The reflection of the hills, actually impossible, is a brilliant device to extend the depth of the pictorial space. Piero wrote two mathematical treatises, and applied his knowledge of mathematics in his paintings.

Essentially this altarpiece has all the elements one associates with the High Renaissance. Only one remnant of medieval painting remains: the strands of the Child's hair are highlighted with gold. ideal 52 architecture of the church. 87 In Rome, and by 1509 he was working on Vatican Stanze for Pope Julius II. About a year before 1508 Raphael went to frescoes in the Pope died the the age of 70, Raphael painted this compassionate portrait of his patron. For over a century no Pope had been bearded.

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100 Great Paintings - Duccio to Picasso by Dillian Gordon

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