Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man
Largely neglected for the four centuries after his death, the fifteenth century Italian artist Piero della Francesca is now seen to embody the fullest expression of the Renaissance perspective painter, raising him to an artistic stature comparable with that of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo.
But who was Piero, and how did he become the person and artist that he was? Until now, in spite of the great interest in his work, these questions have remained largely unanswered. Piero della Francesca: Artist and Man integrates the story of Piero's artistic and mathematical achievements with the full chronicle of his life for the first time, fortified by the discovery of over one hundred previously unknown documents, most unearthed by the author himself.
The book presents us with Piero's friends, family, and collaborators, all set against the social background of the various cities and courts in which he lived - from the Tuscan commune of Sansepolcro in which he grew up, to Renaissance Florence, Ferrara, Ancona, Rimini, Rome, Arezzo, and Urbino, and eventually back to his home town for the final years of his life. As Banker shows, the cultural contexts in which Piero lived are crucial for understanding both the man and his paintings.
What emerges is a thoroughly intriguing Renaissance individual, firmly embedded in his social milieu, but forging an historic identity through his profound artistic and mathematical achievements.
outdoor building (tabernacolo) along a rural road in the Tiber valley near the village of Falcigiano, has been dated to the mid-1430s and attributed to Antonio because he painted in that general area in that period. The art historian Andrea De Marchi judges that Antonio’s painting reveals echoes of Florentine painting and suggests that Piero would thus have had at least a familiarity with Florentine stylistic practices prior to 1439.10 Other researchers have emphasized the influence on Piero of
classicize his existing palace with specific Roman architectural elements, columned windows and cornices.31 Finally, Jacopo also imitated the Malatesta brothers in creating a library in his palace in Sansepolcro. Malatesta Novello’s most significant achievements were his creation of an elegant library building and a collection of manuscripts. The Biblioteca Malatestiana in Cesena was constructed in the period 1447–54 by Matteo Nuti, probably to designs by Alberti. Malatesta Novello commissioned
Sigismondo Malatesta’s chief counselor Jacopo, married a young Montefeltro woman, Violante. In the second political miscalculation Jacopo sought an alternative to the rule of Rimini by Isotta and her son Sallustio in the absence of Sigismondo in 1465. The marriage of Carlo di Jacopo Anastagi to Violante di Niccolò d’Antonio da Montefeltro involved political intrigue. On the surface this appears, and may have been, one of the many attempts to attenuate Malatesta–Montefeltro hostility through
palazzo, liquidate her wealth in Cesena, and retire to a convent in Ferrara. Later documents indicate an accommodation between Federico and the family of the younger Violante (Carlo’s wife), probably after the death of her father in the mid-1460s. Her two brothers became residents in the ducal palace in Urbino. I would suggest that the younger Violante returned to Urbino where, before she vanished from the historical record, she commissioned Piero to paint the Flagellation in honor of her
Battista Sforza in 1472. Battista’s father, Alessandro Sforza, was ruler of the Adriatic port city of Pesaro and had provided a Latin master for Battista in 1450 when she was three years of age. He had then sent her to the court of her uncle Francesco Sforza in Milan, where she received an excellent formal and informal court piero in urbino in the early 1470s | 147 education. Returning to her father’s court at age twelve, she delivered Latin orations to welcome visiting dignitaries. Married to