The advertising function of art, The battle of Saint Romano, Paolo Ucello

1432 the battle is in San Romano, a nearby town between Pisa and Florence.

This fight is more of a mock combat than anything else, which takes place in Florence due to the political situation of the moment.

In the Italian republics there is a total absence of a central power that gives rise to continuous wars between the city-states, almost always Milan and Florence.

The battle lasts 8 hours and is a confrontation between Florentine troops by Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino, and Sienese troops, by Bernardino della Carda, representing the power of the Visconti family.

In addition, Cosme de Medici pays a large amount of money to Tolentino to control the troops.

Those who fight on the battlefields are foreigners who, through the condotta, receive a weekly or monthly salary from their lord.

But it means that the military power resides in the condottieri and not in the city-states, and that mistrust is generated between lords and military leaders.

Some condottieri rise to ascendancy by becoming dukes, such as Francesco Sforza, Duke of Milan.

In this atmosphere of constant warfare, the ancient Roman tradition of making equestrian sculptures of important figures is retaken.

For this reason, the representation – either through sculptures or paintings – of the condottieri are common and Paolo Ucello paints several of them together with his troops.

In this work, the painter reflects a terrifying war machine, despite the fact that it takes place without bloodshed, like most battles of the time.

The Battle of San Romano is made up of three moments: Niccolò Mauruzi da Tolentino in the Battle of San Romano (c. 1438-1440); Niccoló Maurizi da Tolentino dismóunts Bernardino della Carda at the Battle of San Romano (c. 1435-1455) and Michelotto da Cotignola’s counterattack at the Battle of San Romano (c. 1455).

Each scene is currently in the National Gallery in London, the Uffizi Gallery in Florence and the Louvre Museum in Paris.

Ucello represents Niccoló Mauruzi with a spear and sumptuously attired, with a hat with brocades of red and gold velvet.

This dress and the treatment of the figures recalls the late Gothic tradition

Behind Tolentino is the squire who wears his chief’s helmet and also appears dressed in an elegant suit, so this representation exalts the figure of the condottier and his army.

The treatment of the figures is reminiscent of the equestrian sculptures that at that time were not yet erected in public squares but were painted to decorate rooms in palaces or other important spaces.

It was not until the middle of the 15th century that Donatello was commissioned with the famous Gattamelata, thus initiating one of the first performances in honor of the condottieri.

 The volumes of the armor and the musculature of the horses create an atmosphere of tension and movement.

During these battles, those who decide the combats are always the horse riders, who carry lances, hammers or the saber.

 In order to kill someone you have to look for the armpits, the most vulnerable part and the soldiers always protect these areas.

The center reflects perspective, as it places a knight on the ground next to several pieces of spears.

Ucello is one of the first painters to mathematically represent space in painting, which becomes an obsession for the artist.

The perspective that is captured is only in the first part of the painting.

At the beginning, the tables are supposed to be commissioned by Cosme de Medici, but it is commissioned by Lionardo Bartolini Salimbeni.

These three scenes are seized by Lorenzo the Magnificent for the Palazzo Medici-Riccardi in Florence.

It is known that Niccolò de Tolentino has a dishonorable death because one day he falls from his horse and dies.

But it is a hypothesis since the condottier ends up being a political problem for its owner, Cosme de Medici.

Still, Cosme turns him into a martyr and incidentally exalts his political and economic power through personal propaganda once he returns to Florence from his exile in Venice.

Thus Cosme shows how the man and faithful friend in arms and asks Andrea del Castagno to paint a fresco in honor of Tolentino in the Cathedral of Florence.

This recognition is the dream of the vast majority of condottieri and in cities like Florence, you can see their representations in paintings and not in sculptures, as is the case in other Italian cities, such as Padua or Venize.–battle-of-san-romano/

Publicado por ilabasmati

Licenciada en Bellas Artes, FilologÍa Hispánica y lIiteratura Inglesa.

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