UCCELLO, Paolo
(b. 1397, Firenze, d. 1475, Firenze)

Creation of the Animals and Creation of Adam

1432-36
Fresco, 244 x 478 cm
Green Cloister, Santa Maria Novella, Florence

In the upper part of this fresco, which has recently been restored and transferred onto canvas, Uccello has painted the Creation of the Animals and the Creation of Adam. Below, we can still see the Creation of Eve and Original Sin. Painted in "terra verde" (a special kind of pigment made of iron oxide and silicic acid), which gives the cloister its name, these frescoes introduce us to some of the main features of Uccello's style: the predominant influence of Ghiberti, visible primarily in the austere figure of God the Father, so like the characters on the Doors of Paradise in the Baptistry in Florence, blends here with details that come straight out of Masaccio's painting, such as the drawing of Adam's naked body, or of Masolino's, such as the serpent's head in the scene of Original Sin.

The overall construction of the scenes is designed according to very precise geometric plans, so that the outlines at times coincide with the perfect shapes of circles. Blended with this geometric aspect we find elements that belong to the late Gothic, such as the careful description of naturalistic details: the sharp-edged rocks of the desert landscape in the Creation, or the trees laden with fruit and leaves in the Original Sin.

Suggested listening (streaming mp3, 12 minutes):
Joseph Haydn: The Creation, introduction and aria