London: Thames & Hudson, 1994. Large quarto (32.3 x 25 cm) 376 pp., hard cover bound in dark red cloth, 328 illustrations, 174 in colour, printed and bound in Italy. Contents: Introduction; Chronology; Five chapters—I: Florence 1397-1475), II: Art in Florence at the Time of Uccello, III: Places Associated with Uccello, IV: ‘La dolce prospettiva’, V: Uccello’s Imprint in his Works; Catalogue Raisonné; Bibliography; Index; Photo Credits.
Book and dust jacket fine, without blemishes. Item #983
Born in Tuscany c.1397 as Paolo di Dono, the son of a barber-surgeon whose wife was a high-born Florentine, the Quattrocento artist Paolo Uccello developed an early interest in painting animals, especially birds, which led to his nickname Paolo Uccelli (Paul of the birds). From 1412-1416, Uccello was apprenticed to the noted sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, whose late Gothic narrative style and sculptural composition greatly influenced Paolo, who about this time began a lifelong friendship with Donatello. Uccello’s Venice mosaics (1425-1431) are now lost. The present volume depicts in colour many of Uccello’s frescoes, his little-known paintings and stained glass designs, while many of his famous works, such as The Battle of San Romano, are reproduced in colour foldouts. Paolo Uccello died in 1475 in Florence.
Italian painter Giorgio Vasari (1511-1574), the prominent ideological writer on art history, observed that Paolo Uccello was an idiosyncratic painter obsessed with visual perspective in art, using perspective to create a feeling of depth in his paintings. Vasari noted that Uccello’s work became a model for artists who wished to craft illusions of space in order to enhance the realism of their paintings. Though Uccello’s style attracted no school of followers, its emphasis on perspective influenced many painters including Piero della Francesca, Albrecht Durer and Leonardo da Vinci. In his late Gothic style, Uccello emphasised colour and pageantry rather than the classical realism preferred by other artists. Uccello’s ideas had some influence on 20th century art and literary criticism, e.g. in the work of the dramatist Antonin Artaud and the writers Bruno Tolentino and the proto-Surrealist Marcel Schwob.
At the time of the present definitive book’s publication, Franco Borsi was Professor of the History of Architecture at the University of Florence and author of many works on Renaissance architecture and modern aesthetics. The co-author, Stefano Borsi, taught art history in Rome, specialising in the Renaissance, and was also the author of several works on Italian art and culture.