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Paolo Uccello, The Battle of San Romano

Key facts
Full title Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino at the Battle of San Romano
Artist Paolo Uccello
Artist dates about 1397 - 1475
Date made probably about 1438-40
Medium and support Egg tempera with walnut oil and linseed oil on poplar
Dimensions 182 × 320 cm
Acquisition credit Bought, 1857
Inventory number NG583
Location Not on display
Collection Main Collection
The Battle of San Romano
Paolo Uccello

It’s hard to follow what’s going on in this large and busy painting, partly because it’s much darker now than when it was painted. This is one of three battle scenes by Uccello showing the Florentine victory at San Romano in 1432.

The Florentine commander, Niccolò da Tolentino, rides a white charger and wears a magnificent red and gold hat. He leads a cavalry charge from the left, while at the right a knight on a white horse fights off three others.

Uccello was intensely interested in linear perspective – using lines to create an impression of three-dimensional space within a painting – which was a relatively recent discovery. Here he is clearly experimenting: the broken lances in the foreground make a formal grid-like pattern, and scattered pieces of armour are shown at various angles.

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