(b. 1397, Firenze, d. 1475, Firenze)
Scenes from the Life of the Holy Hermits1460s
Tempera on canvas, 81 x 110 cm
Galleria dell'Accademia, Florence
The subject of this painting is rather unusual. In a rocky landscape with forests and caves populated by animals and monks engaged in a variety of activities, we recognize St Benedict in a pulpit, St Bernard and his vision, St Jerome in penance, and St Francis receiving the stigmata. Such a composition does not adhere to any standardized iconography but appears to be a celebration of monasticism in general. The painting can be defined as a Thebaid, i.e. a depiction of the lives of the holy hermits of the first centuries of the Christian era, who retreated as hermits into the Egyptian desert around Thebes. However, Uccello's painting shows the saints and monks belonging to the religious orders common in Florence.