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Paolo Uccello

c. 1397-1475 Italy/Early Renaissance


Brief Biography-Paolo di Dono, nicknamed Uccello for painting birds, received his tuition from the sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti in his hometown of Florence. Battles on the Cathedral Baptistry Doors made by Ghiberti inspired Uccello’s Battle of Romano Scenes. He also took advice from his lifelong friend Donatello. He is renowned for his skill with perspective and, in particular, foreshortening. Giorgio Vasari wrote that he achieved this effect by foreshortening figures along planes that recede gradually and diminish in proportion to each other.
The Painters’ guild admitted him in 1415. There is no record of his life during the next decade. In 1825, he restored mosaics in the San Marco Basilica in Venice. He was back in Florence in 1431 and received his first known commission a year later in the church of Santa Maria Novella outside Florence, where he painted two frescoes of the Old Testament. In 1436, the city elected him to paint an equestrian figure in the Cathedral; The fresco was of the English military leader Sir John Hawkwood as a statue. He also painted the Four Prophets, a clock face and designed stained-glass windows for the cupola of the Duomo.
He worked in the abbey of San Miniato, painting the Lives of the Church Fathers, from which he famously ran away. Two young friars caught up with him and asked why he ran off, and he said it was because the Abbot was only giving him cheese to eat, and he was afraid he would turn him into cheese and use him as a putty. The Abbot got him back by promising to feed him better.
Uccello joined his friend Donatello in Padua, where he painted the Giants in 1445, which are no longer there. Then, back in the cloister of Santa Maria Novella church outside Florence, he painted the Deluge, one of his most noted works.
The Medici family commissioned him to paint his famous three battle scenes of the Battle of Romano, c. 1454. They are currently in the Uffizi, London National Gallery, and the Louvre. The predella for an altarpiece at Urbino is his last known work.
Vasari stated that when Paolo uncovered a painting over the door of the church of San Tommaso in the old market of the saint, examining the wound on Christ’s side, Donatello declared, ‘now that it ought to be covered up, you are unveiling it instead.’ This statement devastated him so much that he confined himself to his house and lived in relative poverty for the rest of his life studying perspective.
His daughter Antonia, a Carmelite nun, also became a painter. Many great masters of the Renaissance that came after him took inspiration from his work on foreshortening.


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Parting of the Flood


The Hunt


Saint George and the Dragon


A Man

Battle of
San Romano

Battle of San Romano

San Romano

Battle of San Romano Two

San Romano

Battle of San Romano Three


Holy Hermits

Lady of

A Young Lady of Fashion

of the Child

Adoration of the Child





Birth of
the Virgin

Birth of the Virgin

Christ on
the Cross-

Christ on the Cross


Mary's Presentation in the Temple

of Stephen

Stoning of Saint Stephen

Miracle of the
Desecrated Host 1

Miracle of the Desecrated Host 1

Miracle of the
Desecrated Host 2

Miracle of the Desecrated Host 2

Miracle of the
Desecrated Host 3

Miracle of the Desecrated Host 3

Miracle of the
Desecrated Host 4

Miracle of the Desecrated Host 4

Miracle of the
Desecrated Host 5

Miracle of the Desecrated Host 5

Miracle of the
Desecrated Host 6

Miracle of the Desecrated Host 6

of a Lady

Portrait of a Lady

of a Woman

Portrait of a Woman

Portrait of
a Young Man

Portrait of a Young Man

of the Magi

Adoration of the Magi