(b. 1416, Borgo San Sepolcro, d. 1492, Borgo San Sepolcro)

Montefeltro Altarpiece (detail)

Oil on panel
Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan

In the mid 15th century, Piero della Francesca was one of the most innovative painters, and he even wrote a treatise on perspective. His influence extended mainly to Umbria, the Marche and Tuscany. Based in Borgo San Sepolcro, where he also held public office, he executed numerous commissions in the service of princes and monasteries. One of these clients was Federico da Montefeltro, who was one of those successful upstarts, as unscrupulous as they were cunning, who as mercenary leaders exploited every opportunity to obtain power and ruthlessly hold on to it.

Piero excelled in terms of the traditional altarpiece. Originally made for a church in Urbino, this picture was commissioned by Duke Federico, who appears as a donor kneeling in the lower right. He wears military garb and holds his helmet, properly removed as a sign of respect.

© Web Gallery of Art, created by Emil Krén and Daniel Marx.