Piero della Francesca is one of the most admired 15th-century Italian painters. The cool colour palette and geometrical compositions contribute to the refined and meditative nature of his works.
Piero was born in Borgo Sansepolcro, in Tuscany. He worked in various central Italian towns, but retained links with Sansepolcro, visible in the background of the 'Baptism of Christ'. The distinctive rolling hills are depicted in a number of his works, such as 'The Nativity'. We know nothing of Piero's training, and the chronology of his works is hard to establish as many are lost. By 1439 he was working in Florence with Domenico Veneziano, whose treatment of space, like that of Uccello, must have influenced him.
Piero was also a mathematical theorist. This interest is reflected in the clearly defined volume of the figures and accurate perspective in his works. It is balanced by a naturalism which derived from Netherlandish art. His patrons were among the most powerful men in Italy: the Duke of Urbino, Sigismund Malatesta in Rimini, and Pope Nicholas V in Rome. According to tradition, Piero taught Signorelli. Vasari says he became blind in old age. He was buried in Sansepolcro.