Piero della Francesca


Polyptych of the Misericordia

The Flagellation of Christ

St. Jerome in Penitence

Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta Praying in Front of St. Sigismund

Portrait of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta

St. Jerome and a Donor

The Baptism of Christ

The History of the True Cross

       Adoration of the Holy Wood and the Meeting of Solomon        and the Queen of Sheba   
Constantine's Dream

Mary Magdalene

Madonna del parto

St. Julian


Polyptych of Saint Augustine


Polyptych of Perugia

Madonna and Child with Saints (Montefeltro Altarpiece)

Paired portraits of Federico da Montefeltro and Battista Sforza

Madonna di Senigallia

Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists | Piero della Francesca


Art in Tuscany
Piero della Francesca | Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels
Piero della Francesca, Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels, c. 1460-70, Williamstown, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Art in Tuscany  

Piero della Francesca | Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels (1480-1482)

Madonna and Child with Four Angels (ca. 1470s-1480s), a relatively late work by Piero della Francesca. In this oil and tempera on wood panel, the artist reveals his antiquarian interests in classical Roman architecture encouraged at the court of Urbino.

Piero della Francesca executed this painting for the Gherardi family. Members of this family were rich merchants in Sansepolcro in the fifteenth century.The Virgin's throne is placed under the open sky in a courtyard. This spatial arrangement was also used by Fra Angelico and his followers. The represented building with its decorative ornament has unusual iconographical and formal aspects if we compare it with buildings existing in the period.
Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels is unquestionably the least well known and least studied of Piero della Francesca's works. This panel is also one of the most fascinating, having been painted for a leading family of Piero's native Sansepolcro, the Gherardi, who were related to him through his niece. It seems to be a late work, perhaps from the 1470s or 1480s. Like Alberti, Piero enjoyed the company and patronage of Federigo da Montefeltro, whose library had copies of Piero's treatises on perspective and the five regular bodies of geometry. "Whatever my works and paintings have of luster they have derived from that brightest and most glittering star and great luminary of our times, your excellent father," Piero wrote to Federigo's son.

The composition centers on the statuesque Virgin Mary, who holds a robust Christ Child on her knee. Christ reaches for a pink carnation, a symbol of the crucifixion. The stately angels, solid as columns, stand as sentinels, while the precisely calibrated architecture forms the idealized setting.

The Madonna, seated on a stool placed on a marble dais decorated with rosettes, offers a rose to the Child, who is seated on his mother's left knee and reaches out his hands to take the flower. Four standing angels surround the group, which is situated in a court yard illuminated by a tenuous light; an oblique shadow is projected from the first angel on the left towards the step of the throne. This is the only cast shadow in the entire painting.

Published for the first time by Gnoli in 1930 as a work by Piero della Francesca belonging to an American collector living in Paris. It is almost unanimously considered to be the work of Piero della Francesca in all publications on the painter, and it is connected with the years at Urbino and with the Perugia Annunciation.[2] Of works closely related to Piero della Francesca this is no doubt the finest example, which acutely emphasizes our lack of both knowledge and interpretative models for the school of Piero.


[1] This extremely rare painting by a key figure of the early Renaissance in Italy was one of Sterling Clark's first purchases. The collections of the Clark Art Institute are the achievement of Robert Sterling Clark (1877-1956), a Yale engineer whose forebears had been successful in the sewing machine industry. Clark began collecting works of art in Paris in 1912, married a French woman named Francine, and eventually housed his masterpieces in a classic white marble temple here in Williamstown.
The original museum was greatly expanded in 1973, and now has strong collections of paintings by the Impressionists, their academic contemporaries in France, and the mid-century Barbizon artists, including Millet, Troyon, and Corot. Earlier centuries are represented by well-chosen pieces of Piero della Francesca, Memling, Gossaert, Jacob van Ruisdael, Fragonard, Gainsborough, Turner, and Goya. There are some sculptures, including Degas' famous Little Dancer of Fourteen Years, as well as prints, drawings, and noteworthy collections of silver and porcelain.

[2] "Battisti (1971, p. 64) reconstructs the ownerships, going back to the Christie's sale on 29 May, 869 where the provenance is given as the Gerardi (or Gherardi) house in Sansepolcro. Battisti recalls that in 1583 a painting attributed to Piero della Francesca was to be found in the house of a ']acomo di Bernardino Gherardi' in Sansepolcro. The painting reached Williamstown in 1957. Battisti publishes the opinions of experts on the work's 'excellent state of conservation'. Longhi instantly judged the work to be 'a masterpiece by Piero', noting that it was not mentioned in Toesca's 1935 article, if not as 'vaguely known'. (...) Of works closely related to Piero della Francesca this is no doubt the finest example, which acutely emphasizes our lack of both knowledge and interpretative models for the school of Piero. The school must have had numerous adherents ready to re-elaborate the master's suggestions and ideas. Piero's theoretical writings show a pronounced inclination towards teaching. The variety of artists influenced by him, from iSignorelli to Michelozzo, Antoniazzo and Lorenzo da Viterbo is comparable only to Leonardo's wide circle.
The panel reveals a genuine anthology of citations from the known work of the master and of those near to him, crowded in a similar way to that experienced in some pictures by Leonardo' s pupils. Regardless of the supposed provenance from Sanscpolcro, the work is dominated by
Piero's Urbino themes, even if Hendy attributed the 'stiffness and clumsiness' he saw in the picture to Piero's youthful years.
The angel with crossed arms seen in profile, a type probably initiated in the Perugia Annunciation, is taken up again in profile, in reverse, in the Christ Church Madonna with Child and Angels. The penultimate angel on the right is a faithful citation, even to the back lighting of the hair, from the first angel to the right of the Madonna in the Montefeltro Altarpiece. The veil of the Madonna's he ad is a linear translation of the voluminous veil in the Senigallia Madonna. The three-quarter view face of the angel on the extreme right corresponds to the one on the extreme right in the same Senigallia painting, though with the addition of a fringe, and above all without the spiritual rapture of the model, which has been replaced by an attitude of open seduction towards the spectator."
Carlo Bertelli, Piero della Francesca, New Haven & London, Yale University Press, 1992, p. 228.

Art in Tuscany | Giorgio Vasari's Lives of the Artists | Piero della Francesca

The Metropolitan Museum of Art - Special Exhibitions - From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master
Florence: Filippo Lippi and Fra Carnevale | The Metropolitan Museum of Art | www.metmuseum.org
This essay, written by Keith Christiansen, was derived from the exhibition catalogue From Filippo Lippi to Piero della Francesca: Fra Carnevale and the Making of a Renaissance Master (The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, 2005).
'The biography of Fra Carnevale takes us from Medicean Florence to Urbino, in the Marches, ruled by the great soldier-patron Federigo da Montefeltro. It involves some of the great names of quattrocento art: Filippo Lippi, Domenico Veneziano, Luca Della Robbia, Donatello, Michelozzo, and Piero della Francesca. And it embraces such key issues as: what we know about workshop practice; what we mean by artistic influence; and—most important—how fifteenth-century painters created an artistic identity and used that identity to assert their claims to the emerging concept of creative genius.
The exhibition unfolds in three chapters. The first is set in Florence in the 1440s and explores the workshop of Filippo Lippi, where Fra Carnevale is documented in 1445. The second casts a glance at some of Fra Carnevale's compatriots: artists who, like him, traveled to Florence from the Marches to acquire the rudiments of Renaissance practice and then returned to their native towns. Their curiously hybrid pictures—sometimes astonishingly imaginative—provide a meter by which to judge the achievement of Fra Carnevale. The concluding chapter unites the surviving works by Fra Carnevale with Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels by Piero della Francesca, whose shadow falls across Fra Carnevale's finest paintings and epitomizes the artistic culture of Urbino.'


Itinerary in Central Italy | In the footsteps of Piero della Francesca



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