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The fifteenth century Italian artist Piero della Francesca is now seen to embody the fullest expression of the Renaissance perspective painter. Yet until now we have known very little about Piero the man, and his biography has remained something of an enigma. This book puts that situation right, bringing together the story of Piero's artistic and mathematical achievements with the story of his life for the first time. Fortified by the discovery of over one hundredpreviously unknown documents, most unearthed by the author himself, James R. Banker at last brings this fascinating Renaissance enigma to life.
The Rizzoli Art Classics series brings you Piero della Francesca, Titian, Caravaggio, and Velázquez, all in beautifully illustrated monographs, offering high-quality reproductions in compact, accessible volumes. These books feature a literary introduction by a renowned art historian, a thoroughly researched essay, and captions describing the artist's most famous canvases. A useful appendix section includes an extensive chronology of the artist's life and important historical events of his time; a compilation of writings by well-known historians, insight into each painter's stylistic development; a geographical table detailing the location of each painting in the book; and a concise bibliography with suggested further readings.With authoritative text by leading art historians, these lavishly illustrated editions provide fresh insight into the art and lives of some of the most fascinating artists in the history of painting.
The fifteenth-century Italian artist Piero della Francesca painted a familiar world. Roads wind through hilly landscapes, run past farms, sheds, barns, and villages. This is the world in which Piero lived. At the same time, Piero’s paintings depict a world that is distant. The subjects of his pictures are often Christian and that means that their setting is the Holy Land, a place Piero had never visited. The Realism of Piero della Francesca studies this paradoxical aspect of Piero’s art. It tells the story of an artist who could think of the local churches, palaces, and landscapes in and around his hometown of Sansepolcro as miraculously built replicas of the monuments of Jerusalem. Piero’s application of perspective, to which he devoted a long treatise, was meant to convince his contemporaries that his paintings report on things that Piero actually observed. Piero’s methodical way of painting seems to have offered no room for his own fantasy. His art looks deliberately styleless. This book uncovers a world in which painting needed to validate itself by cultivating the illusion that it reported on things observed instead of things imagined by the artist. Piero’s painting claimed truth in a world of increasing uncertainties.
An innovative painter in the early generation of Renaissance artists, Piero dell Francesca was also an expert on religious topics and a mathematician who wanted to use perspective and geometry to make painting a “true science.” Although only sixteen of Piero’s works survive, few art historians doubt his importance in the Renaissance. A 1992 conference of international experts meeting at the National Gallery of Art deemed Piero “one of the most highly regarded painters of the early Renaissance, and one of the most respected artists of all time.” In recent years, the quest for Piero has continued among intrepid scholars, and Piero’s Light uncovers the life of this remarkable artistic revolutionary and enduring legacy of the Italian Renaissance.
Piero della Francesca, one of the greatest painters of the fifteenth century, was also an accomplished mathematician. This book--the first to study and integrate Piero's work as a mathematician and painter-explores the connections between his two activities and enhances our understanding of both his paintings and his scientific writings. J.V. Field begins by describing Piero's education, family background, and training as a painter. She then considers the strong sense of three-dimensional form shown in his art and the abstract solid geometry discussed in his writings. Field next deals with Piero's treatise on perspective and with art works that exemplify the prescriptions it provides, and she assesses the optical or pictorial "rules" Piero followed as a painter. Hailing Piero as an exemplar of a learned craft tradition, she concludes by considering the historical significance of that tradition and its links to the scientific revolution that emerged in the next century. Piero's mathematics is revealed to be as highly accomplished as his painting, and he is shown to exemplify-as does his younger contemporary Leonardo da Vinci-some of the important changes that the Renaissance made in the development of the sciences and in the arts.
"Lavin's study of the Pierro della Francesca "Flagellation" at Urbino, as befits this exquisite masterpiece, is a model of lucid and precise exposition as well as being an exciting exercise of scholarship. Informed with the intellectual rigour of Scholastic exegesis, it deserves to be placed with the classic readings of fifteenth and sixteenth century works by Erwin Panofsky and Edgar Wind."—Spectator "[Lavin] leaves the picture more wondrous than before, a simultaneous triumph of the theological and biographical, as well as pictorial, imagination."—Rackstraw Downes, New York Times Book Review

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