Scholars were long tempted to regard the Florentine Quattrocento in the light of the emergent Renaissance, and in so doing to relegate the fascinating figure of Paolo Uccello to the margins. His often fantastical compositions, his original and occasionally bizarre experiments with perspective, his apparent sympathy with the Gothic heritage , his notoriously strange and secretive character, all seemed to exclude him from the resurgent current of austere, realist, heroic art exemplified by Brunelleschi, Masaccio and Alberti.
Now this new, splendidly illustrated study re-emphasizes the genius of Uccello by treating his period under a wholly fresh schema, an “alternative humanism” parallel to the dominant strain, which reintegrates Gothic and Renaissance into a living synthesis. Chapters on contemporary Frorence and the artistic parctice of the time bring Uccello to life by situating him in the context of his magnificent home city at its most vibrant and fertile-cradle of European humanism and stage for the pageantry of the Medici. In this interpretation, the two cultural traditions coexist rather than conflict, and Uccello can be seen as a natural representative of his time and a coherent creative intellect, rather than as a whimsical eccentric.
Uccello` s frescoes are fully illustrated, and the relations between sites and compositions are examined in detail. Little known paintings and stained glass designs are presented in colour, and many works, such as the famous Battle of San Romano panels, are reproduced in superb colour foldouts. An extensive catalogue raisonne brings together all his surviving and documented works, and examines attributions. Other reference material includes a chronology, where his life is set against the historical events and artistic achieve ments of his age, and a comprehensive bibliography.
Paolo Uccello has been much loved but little understood; his art has delighted admirers even when established orthodoxy dismissed it as an aberration. Now at last he receives a fitting presentation which will restore his status as a great Quattrocento artist.
With 328 illustrations, 174 in colour, including 5 colour foldouts.