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Piero "della" Francesca (1422-1492)

Aliases: Piero "de la" Francesca; Piero "della" Francesca; Piero "dei" Franceschi; Piero della Francesca; Piero di Benedetto di Piero Franceschi daSansepolcro; Piero di Benedetto di Pietro; Pietro di Benedetto dei Franceschi

Professions: Painter

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Piero "della" Francesca Biography

(b 1416, Borgo San Sepolcro, Umbria, Italy; d 1492, Borgo San Sepolcro) Italian Renaissance Painter. Piero della Francesca was born and spent much of his life in Borgo San Sepolcro, now known as Sansepolcro. His father, Benedetto de’ Franceschi, a tanner and shoemaker, earned enough for his son to become well educated and literate in Latin. Nothing is known of Piero’s early art training but he was most likely instructed by local masters influenced by Florentine artists, such as Massaccio, Donatello, Domenico Veneziano, Filippo Lippi, Uccello, and Masolino. Piero Della Francesca most likely lived in Florence during the 1430s; his presence is first documented in 1439 when he assisted Domenico Veneziano on frescoes in San Egidio. By 1442 Piero returned to San Sepolco and became elected to the town council. Three years later the Confraternita della Misericordia commissioned the polyptych “Misericordia Altarpiece” from him, which was not completed until 1462. In the late 1440s and early 1450s, Piero worked in northern Italy, completing frescoes in Ferrara and Rimini. Structural clarity, controlled linear perspective, creation of monumental figures, sculptural use of line, and his application of light and color are all elements that came to define Piero’s style at this time and until his death. Later in his career, Piero worked at the court of the humanist, Federico da Montefeltro in Urbino. There he completed the “Senigallia Madonna”, portraits of Federico and his wife Battista Sforza (Uffizi, Florence), and one of his most famous panel paintings “The Flagellation” (Urbino, Ducal Palace). After 1478 Piero devoted his time to writing treatises in mathematics and perspective. Among his final paintings was the Montefeltro altarpiece “Madonna and Child with Saints” (Brera, Milan, c. 1475), also executed for the Duke of Urbino, and the unfinished “Nativity” (National Gallery, London). An account by the Italian painter, architect and biographer, Vasari, suggests that failing eyesight may have forced the artist to give up painting. His will of 1486, which states in Piero’s handwriting that he is “sound in mind, in intellect and in body” and other surviving documents suggest his loss of vision, if true, didn’t occur until after 1490. His oeuvre influenced the figures and handling of light of Luca Signorelli and the spatial composition of Perugino.



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