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Paolo Uccello

Monumento equestre a Giovanni AcutoPaolo di Dono, known as Paolo Uccello, was born in 1397. He trained in Lorenzo Ghiberti’s workshop but almost nothing is known about his early works.
In 1425 he was in Venice where heworked on the mosaic in the church of St Mark (it did not survive). He returned to Florence in 1430 where, in the Duomo, he painted the fresco depicting Giovanni Acuto on Horseback. The statuesque effect is achieved by the clever use of contrasting light and dark colours and by setting the perspective so that the whole picture is extremely life-like. The character is accurately portrayed. The accuracy and detail of the whole picture make it almost geometrical and therefore give it an abstract quality.
In the following years he painted the frescos of the cloister of San Miniato a Monte, depicting Stories of Saints and monks (fragments of this work remain), Birth of the Virgin, Presentation of Mary at the Temple and Dispute of St Stephen in the duomo of Prato. In these paintings the search for geometrical and abstract elements is clear as well as the detailed study of each individual character in the scenes.
In 1448 he painted the frescos of the cloister of Santa Maria Novella in Florence depicting the Great Flood and Stories of Noah. In these pictures he achieved perspective using landscapes and strong contrast of light and dark colours which confer depth to the frescos yet at the same time make them almost monochromatic. These frescos are a study of nature because the artist analyses the face of each character in detail; this is, however, in contrast with the geometrical layout of the picture which confers and Paolo Uccelloabstract quality to the paintings. All the above is clearly evident in the three plates depicting the Battle of St Romano (this painting is divided between the Uffizi Gallery, the Louvre and the London National Gallery). In these plates every detail is highlighted by the unusual use of perspective, the unrealistic colours and the style.
Some of the painter’s last works are: Miracle of the Host in Urbino, portrait of a Youth, St George and the Dragon and Night Hunt.
Paolo Uccello died in 1475.