Paolo Uccello

Paolo Uccello
Paolo Uccello portrait
Born 1397
Pratovecchio, Italy
Died December 10, 1475 (at age 77–78)
Florence, Italy
Nationality Italian
Education Lorenzo Ghiberti
Movement Early Renaissance
Field Painting, Fresco
Works View Complete Works

Paolo Uccello was born in 1397 in a place called Florence to one Dono di Paolo who was a surgeon and barber and madam Antonina di Gio who hailed from a wealthy and noble family from Perugia. According to various written sources, it is claimed that Paolo was very interested in perspective art such that he would stay all night figuring on how he would get a particular vanishing point. He used perspective art to tell succeeding or different stories and to create a depth feeling on all his paintings. Paolo is known all over the world by the art enthusiasts for the 3 paintings that he made representing the Battle of San Romano.

While most of the artists at his time were advancing the classical realism art, Uccello, having worked in the Gothic tradition, focused mainly on pageantry and color. Most of the artists referred to his style as idiosyncratic, and he did not have many followers. He would however have a little influence on the literary criticism and the 20th century art.

Life History

Uccello_Battle_of_San_Romano_UffiziThe life history of Paolo Uccello can be found on the biography of Giorgio Vasari which was written seventy-five years after his death. He was nicknamed Uccello because he really loved painting the birds. When he was ten years old, he started practicing his artistic skills to one Lorenzo Ghiberti who was a famous sculptor at the time. The Florence Baptistery doors were designed by this sculptor and his workshop was the only one that did Florentine art. Lorenzo’s sculptural composition, narrative style and the late Gothic style played a great role in shaping Uccello artistic skills. It is during this time that Uccello started his friendship with one Donatello.

Paolo Uccello got admitted to the Compagnia di San Luca which was a guild of painters and joined the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali which was the official painters’ guild of artists from Florence. Paolo is believed to have left the Lorenzo’s workshop in the year 1421. He however stayed in good terms with Lorenzo and would partner in making various door designs. He is believed to have played an instrumental part in designing Lorenzo’s 2nd set of Baptistery doors that were referred to as The Gate of Paradise.


Paolo_Uccello_Saint-George-and-the-DragonAccording to Vasari bibliography, Paolo Uccello 1st painting was that of Saint Antony. He made a painting of St. Anthony who was sandwiched by St, Damianus and Cosmas. His next painting would be that of the 2 figures in the Annalena convent. He was indeed proving to the whole world of his artistic skills. His next painting was that of 3 frescoes that had various scenes from the times and life of St. Francis at the Santa Trinita church. He is also accredited to having painted the Annunciation fresco at the Santa Maria Maggiore. In this painting, he painted a very large building with a number of columns in view. All his paintings were really appreciated then and most people continue appreciating his work even today.

Having successfully completed a number of paintings, Paolo Uccello artistic work started attracting the attention of many people. He would later be asked to make a painting of a number of scenes that showed various animals. The painting would then be kept in the Medici house. In this particular painting, he portrayed a very fierce lion squaring it out with a venomous snake. This particular painting would win him a number of accolades and recognition. Paolo loved nature and most of his paintings revolved around a number of a number of animals and birds. His nickname Uccello was as a result of his love for the birds; Paolo Uccello translates to “Paul of the Birds” in English.

Uccelo_host_burningBy the year 1424, Uccello was earning a decent salary from his paintings. It is during this year that Uccello was able to show his maturity as far as art was concerned. Most of his paintings were lively and he love for nature helped him greatly. He managed in painting the animals and the environment at large using their natural colors, this was unlike other artists. He therefore started gaining recognition and fame for his uniqueness. This is how he was accredited with the reputation of painting the various landscapes. He made various paintings of the Ark of Noah and the Deluge.