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

Niccolò da Tolentino Leads the Florentine Troops

Tempera on wood, 182 x 320 cm
National Gallery, London

The three paintings of the Battle of San Romano are universally attributed to Paolo Uccello. The three scenes are: Niccolò da Tolentino Leads the Florentine Troops, London, National Gallery; Bernardino della Ciarda Thrown Off His Horse, Florence, Uffizi; Micheletto da Cotignola Engages in Battle, Paris, Louvre. Together with the stories from the life of Noah these are undoubtedly Uccello's most famous works.

In all three the battle scene is interpreted in terms of a chaotic melee of horsemen, lances and horses in a desperate struggle, portrayed through an endless series of superimposed and intersecting perspective planes. As in the stories from the life of Noah in Santa Maria Novella, here too the movement which should animate the scenes appears to be frozen, as it were, by the isolation of the individual details, all realistically portrayed. See, for instance, the elaborate heavy armour, the leather saddles, the gilded studs, the horses' shiny coats, and of course the splendid "mazzocchi', the huge multifaceted headgear that Uccello often included in his pictyres due to the specific difficulty of painting it in proper perspective.