Piero della Francesca

One of my favorite museums, The Frick Collection recently mounted an exhibition on the painter, Piero della Francesca – who is strongly considered to be one of the most influential painters of the fifteenth century, and of the Italian Renaissance. Piero was also known to be an extraordinarily competent mathematician – as evidenced by several treatises that he penned on geometric study… not to mention his painterly understanding of perspective, architecture, and even figural representation.

Of the seven paintings that are currently on display at The Frick, six are from the Sant’Agostino altarpiece (1454–69), “a large polyptych that towered over the high altar of the local Augustinian church and was disassembled around 1555.” As seen from this first image (a reconstruction of the altarpiece) the vast majority of panels are missing. Not part of the exhibition are the second and fourth figures of the main tier, Saint Michael Archangel and Saint Nicholas of Tolentino – which can be found in London and Milan respectively. Very little is known of the missing central panel – which presumably would have been of the Madonna and Child.

The seventh painting on display, Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels, was also an altarpiece – for another church or a private residence. I included (at the end of this post) my favorite painting by Piero della Francesca, The Montefeltro Altarpiece (Brera Madonna) – which was commissioned by the Duke of Urbino to celebrate the birth of his son. To truly see Piero’s understanding of geometry, look no further than this painting!

Although the exhibition is quite small, it is certainly worth seeing – not to mention the absolute treasure trove of other paintings that one can see as part of The Frick Collection. Piero della Francesca in America is on exhibit through May 19, 2013.

a reconstruction of Pierro della Francesco’s Sant’Agostino Altarpiece

for the church of Sant’Agostino – Sansepolcro


Saint Augustine

Museu Nacional de Arte Antiga – Lisbon


Saint John the Evangelist

The Frick Collection – New York


Saint Apollonia

National Gallery of Art – Washington, D.C.


Saint Monica

The Frick Collection – New York


The Crucifixion

The Frick Collection – New York


Saint Leonard (?)

The Frick Collection – New York


Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute – Williamstown


The Montefeltro Altarpiece (Brera Madonna)

Pinacoteca di Brera – Milan