Every year, as part of our Take One Picture programme, we invite primary schools nationwide to focus on one of our paintings and respond creatively to its themes and subject matter, historical context, or composition.
The Battle of San Romano
The painting shows a key moment in the Florentine victory at San Romano in 1432, with the commander Niccolò da Tolentino leading a cavalry charge and wearing a magnificent red and gold hat. Uccello’s painting was chosen for the cross-curricular themes and subjects which can be explored: from conflict and battles, to pattern, perspective and Renaissance Italy.
See some of the children from Hill Top CE Primary School's first impressions of the painting when they saw it in the Gallery for the very first time:
Inside the exhibition
Featuring works by children from 30 different primary schools, the exhibition showcased the richness of children's creative responses – from armoured beasts and shining shields to plumed helmets and printed flowers.
Download the PDF of works in the exhibition including full descriptions about each work.
Gordon Primary School, Essex, 7–8 year-olds
The battle scene reminded Year 3 of a chessboard, with a square pattern on the floor and black and white horses. They called their project ‘Waress’ as a composite of ‘war’ and ‘chess’.
The Fruits of San Romano
Bromley High School GDST, Kent, 4–5 year-olds
Reception Class explored the background of the painting, leading them to focus on the fruits growing in the hedgerows.
Sellincourt Primary School, London, 4–11 year-olds
After experimenting with photography, Sellincourt Primary School made blue and red 3D drawings that look as if they are running towards you!
Beaver’s Community Primary School, London, 7–8 year-olds
The armour in the painting reminded the children of different animals, such as woodlice, armadillos and dragons, so they decided to make their own armoured beasts.
Eton End School, Berkshire, 10–11 year-olds
Inspired by the work of Robert Reed, Year 6 made abstract responses to the painting. They focused on perspective, colour and movement.
Grundisburgh Primary School, Suffolk, 5–6 year-olds
Investigating the pattern on Niccolò da Tolentino’s grand hat led Year 1 to printing their own hat fabric.
Hartwell Primary School, Northamptonshire, 8–9 year-olds
Children took photographs with the theme ‘winning and losing.’ They then replaced most of their photograph with drawing to practise accurately representing perspective.
Hill Top CE Primary School and Nursery, Bradford, 9–10 year-olds
Year 5 decided to make their own ornamental breastplates for the horses, creating them with embossing tools and foil.
The Battle of Our Time
Gordon Primary School, Essex, 4–5 year-olds
Reception Class made a link between the armour worn in the painting and the masks we wear to protect ourselves and others from Coronavirus.
Our Community: A Coat of Arms
Trinity Primary Academy, London, 10–11 year-olds
Inspired by the shields in the painting, students decided to make their own versions. Each shield represents something about themselves.
The Daily Pomegranate
Two Mile Ash School, Buckinghamshire, 10–11 year-olds
Year 6 talked about whether they could trust the scene shown in the painting and decided to write newspaper articles to report the events of the battle.
Hyde Park Junior School, Plymouth, 7–8 year-olds
Students used their detailed observational drawings to make polystyrene printing blocks. They then used a variety of inks to create their final pieces.
Renaissance Helmet Decorations
St Benedict’s Junior School, London, 8–9 year-olds
Inspired by the helmets in the painting, children drew their designs before creating colourful and eye-catching plumes.
The San Romano Honours
Mab’s Cross Community Primary School, Lancashire, 7–8 year-olds
One child asked ‘What happened after the battle was over?’ This led to discussions around celebration and rewarding soldiers with medals.
Knights in Shining Armour
North Mymms St Mary’s CE Primary School, Hertfordshire, 4–5 year-olds
After noticing the shiny armour in the painting, children decided to make their own knights in shining armour using paper, paints and collage materials.
Battle in Black and White
King Edward’s Junior School, Bath, 9–10 year-olds
Children worked in pairs to make models covered in plaster bandages, before painting them to resemble chess pieces.
Hyde Park Junior School, Plymouth, 10–11 year-olds
Year 6 made observational drawings of horses, before working in pairs to translate their drawings into wire sculptures.
Hartwell Primary School, Northamptonshire, 4–5 year-olds
The children thought about what their faces might look like if they were celebrating winning a battle. They then recreated their own expressions of celebration using collage.
Gold Leaf Shields
John Bunyan Primary School, Essex, 7–8 year-olds
Students spent time looking at traditional Italian shield designs, before making their own versions. They realised that their designs had to be bold and easy to read.
Exploring Fruits and Flowers
Bridgewater Primary School, Northampton, 3–4 year-olds
The children used fresh flowers to create this bright, collaborative print. They also tried tasting different fruits, inspired by those growing on the battlefield.
Two Mile Ash School, Buckinghamshire, 10–11 year-olds
Students made links between 'The Battle of San Romano' and the important causes they would fight for today.
St James CE Primary School, London, 7–8 year-olds
After investigating how to show a horse moving, children decided to show them ‘running free’ instead of in battle.
Caroline Chisholm School, Northampton, 5–6 year-olds
Children reflected on the everyday heroes in their lives and made medals to award to these special people.
Signs of Hope
Woodford Halse Primary Academy, Northamptonshire, 9–10 year-olds
Year 5 felt that the oranges and roses in the painting represented life, growth and hope. They chose to recreate them using embroidery.
Etz Chaim Jewish Primary School, London, 7–8 year-olds
Students decided that they would like to add a new figure to the painting. They had to think about what kind of character would be appropriate for the scene.
A Community of Hats
Kingswood Primary School, Gloucestershire, 5–11 year-olds
The children were fascinated by the central figure’s hat. They thought that it must be very special, so they asked local people about their special hats, before making their own.
We Saw Horses!
Gordon Primary School, Essex, 3–4 year-olds
Working in teams, the class made horses out of cardboard boxes, thinking carefully about the size of the body and counting how many legs they would need.
Laddingford St Mary’s C of E Primary School, Kent, 5–11 year-olds
Students decided to write a song about the battle, inspired by Medieval and Early Renaissance music.
Coding Moving Horses
Kingswood Parks Primary School, Hull, 9–10 year-olds
Year 5 coded buggies to move so they could recreate the horses charging at each other. They also used a green screen to make the painting into a backdrop for their battle.
Vision of the Past
Cleveland Road Primary School, Essex, 7–8 year-olds
Year 4 decided to make a zoetrope to recreate different elements of the battle. As the zoetrope spins, their drawings come to life.
A Visit to the National Gallery
Grafton Primary School, London, 8–9 year-olds
The children decided to animate a visit to the Gallery, where they would learn about the painting from an art historian, and Paolo Uccello himself!
Descriptive Writing and Drama
Exeter Junior School, Exeter, 9–10 year-olds
The children wrote imaginative descriptions of the battle, before stepping into the shoes of Niccolò da Tolentino in a post-battle interview.
Alderbrook Primary School, London, 10–11 year-olds
Year 6 used animation to show links between 'The Battle of San Romano' and our modern-day battle with Coronavirus.
Niccolò da Tolentino’s Flag
Gateway School, Buckinghamshire, 10–11 year-olds
How big do you think Niccolò’s flag would be in real life? Year 6 decided to find out using their maths skills and made their own.
Let Faith Be My Shield
Hornbill School, British Forces Brunei, 7–11 year-olds
After listening to 'When a Knight Won his Spurs', students decided to create a ‘values battle’ scene, with each soldier shown fighting for their chosen value.
St Benedict’s Junior School, London, 10–11 year-olds
Children worked together to create a horse sculpture made from aluminium plates. The metal was hammered, burned and tarnished to look like armour.