Piero della Francesca with his sunlit and volumetric style, has long enjoyed a legendary status as a precursor of modern art. Born in the small Tuscan town of Sansepolcro, early on he was in touch with leading Florentine artists, notably Domenico Veneziano (ca. 1410–1461) whose limpid light he adopted and surpassed. He was a master of linear perspective and wrote treatises on the subject, stimulated by contact with the architect and polymath Leon Battista Alberti in Rimini, where both worked for Sigismondo Malatesta tyrant of the city. One of his first masterpieces is a fresco of the Resurrection, still in San Sepolcro and saved from destruction in World War II by an artillery officer who disobeyed his orders to shell the town. A severe and implacable Christ looms up before one of Piero’s arid and locally-inspired landscapes. In another fresco at Monterchi nearby, a pregnant Virgin is revealed by a pair of angels drawing aside a curtain. No painting so movingly expresses the joys and hopes of pregnancy and maternal tenderness towards an unborn child.
No fully attribued painting or drawing by Piero della Francesca has been offered in public auction in the last thirty years. Works by the artist have been sold through private channels exclusively.
Books on Piero della Francesca
Anna Maetzke, Piero della Francesca, Milan, 2013.
Carlo Ginzburg, The Enigma of Piero: Piero della Francesca, London, 2002.
John Pope-Hennessy, The Piero della Francesca Trail, London, 1991.
Giorgio Vasari, The Lives of the Artist, 1550, trans. Julia Conway Bondanella and Peter Bondanella, New York, 2009.