Piero della Francesca: great works and where to admire them

Piero della Francesca is one of the most important painters of the Italian Quattrocento. Geometer, mathematician and master of perspective, his works mark the prelude to the magnificence of painting in the Italian Renaissance. We are going to delve into his figure and, above all, into his work.

Get to know a little about Piero della Francesca

Born in the region of Tuscany in the first quarter of the fifteenth century, His painting stands out for its geometry and the use of the perspective. In fact, Piero della Francesca was also a teacher of mathematics and geometry, which is why we find these two aspects in his painting.

Of noble mother and merchant father, it is not yet known for sure where he trained as a painter. Although it is true that his place of residence, Sansepolcro, was a meeting place of Florentine, Umbrian and Sienese influences. There he is related to him as an apprentice of Antonio de Anghiari and, already in Florence, with Domenico Veneziano.


He worked in his native city and in others such as Urbino, Florence, Ferrara, Bologna or Ancona, making mostly frescoes. Works of his, which, unfortunately, have been largely lost.

In his painting there is a clear evolution from late Gothic to Renaissance forms, with the abandonment of gold backgrounds and the introduction of perspective architecture and landscape in the painted scenes. He died in 1492 leaving behind a great artistic legacy and some disciples who continued his teachings and created his own styles, such as Luca Signorelli and El Perugino.

Great works of Piero della Francesca

The first surviving work attributed to Piero della Francesca is the virgin with child. It is currently in the Contini Bonacossi Collection, which is part of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. Prior to this work, he had done others that, unfortunately, have not survived to this day.

His famous painting is also preserved from that early period. the baptism of christ. It is a work done in tempera on panel that this Italian artist made around the year 1450. Today it is kept in the National Gallery in London. He made it for the altarpiece of the main altar of the church of San Juan de Sansepolcro.

For Sigismundo Pandolfo Malatesta he worked in the city of Rimini, where he made two of his magnificent works. One is Pandolfo Malatesta at the feet of his patron saint, which can be seen in Rimini Cathedral. The other is Portrait of Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta, on display at the Louvre Museum in Paris.

The jewel of Arezzo

Without a doubt, the most important work of this Italian artist would be carried out in Arezzo. Over there, the Bacci family would entrust him with the cycle of frescoes for The Legend of the Holy Cross for his private chapel. Della Francesca would do the work in two phases between 1452 and 1459.

In them, this medieval legend is narrated in ten chapters or episodes. Among them stands out The dream of constantine. It also highlights the Discovery and proof of the Vera Cruz, in which the mother of Emperor Constantine, Elena, discovers the true Cross of Christ.

Other works by Piero della Francesca

The Polyptych of Saint Augustine It is another of his masterpieces. Made between 1454 and 1469, today it is dismembered and dispersed in various museums around the world such as the National Gallery in London, the Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga in Lisbon or the National Gallery of Art in Washington.

The Holy Conversation is another of the masterpieces of this great artist of the Italian Renaissance, made between 1472 and 1474. It is also known as Madonna of the Duke of Urbino, Madonna with Child and Saints either Brera Shovel, since it is in the Pinacoteca de Brera, in Milan. And it is characteristic for the egg that hangs over the head of the Virgin.

In the meantime, the Virgin of childbirth stands out for the intense blue of the mantle. It is a blue obtained thanks to the lapis lazuli that was imported from Afghanistan through the commercial routes that the Republic of Venice had at that time.

Returning to the theme of portraits, Piero della Francesca made the Diptych of the Duke of Urbino. It is a work in which he represented Duke Federico de Montefeltro and his wife and which is in the Uffizi Gallery. For its part, the Flagellation of Christ it can be visited in the Ducal Palace of Urbino and in it, classical architecture is as protagonist or more than the scene represented.

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