Monday, July 13, 2015

Piero della Francesca's only surviving work in the Eternal City.

Piero della Francesca was one of the greatest artists of the XV century - especially known for his works in Urbino and Arezzo, he also worked in Rome. Among his greatest works we remember the Montefeltro Altarpiece, the Resurrection, the Flagellation of Christ, the Baptism of Christ and his cycle of frescoes representing the History of the True Cross. He had an influence on Melozzo da Forlì whose influence was extremely important for the developement of a truly Roman Renaissance style in visual arts, also Perugino and Luca Signorelli were known for visiting his workshop quite often. He was a key artist to the Italian Renaissance as he also worked on the great cycle of frescoes at Sant'Egidio in Florence representing the life of the Virgin Mary, a great work which is now lost, but which was considered to be another Brancacci Chapel - definitely a key element to understand the evolution of Renaissance art.

His presence in Rome was not as indirect as we may think though. It is thought that in 1449, the year before the Jubilee he arrived in the Eternal City, a journey which was extremely important to the study of classical architecture which later characterized his work greatly, especially works such as the Baptism of Christ and the cycle of frescoes in Arezzo.

As Vasari (the great late Renaissance chronicler and artist) states it is also possible that he was called to Rome in the years 1452-1453 by Pope Nicholas V.

As it was stated earlier Piero's presence in Rome was not only indirect, on 12th April 1459 he was commissioned some frescoes by Pope Pius II for his rooms - the frescoes were later destroyed by order of Pope Julius II and replaced by the Mass of Bolsena and the Deliverance of Saint Peter by Raphael.

Piero della Francesca's only surviving work in Rome today is an unfinished ceiling decoration in the Chapel of St. Michael/St. Peter ad Vincula in St. Mary Major Basilica. He was commissioned a fresco representing the Four Evangelists by Cardinal Guillaume d'Estouteville in 1459, but unfortunately Piero left Rome and his fresco when her mother died later that year. St. Luke is the best preserved figure. Not many know of this fresco, but it is an overwhelming feeling to know that the Quattrocento Rome also boasts the name of another great master of the Renaissance.