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

St John on Patmos (Quarate predella)

1435-40
Panel, 20,5 x 41 cm
Museo Arcivescovile, Florence

The predella, today in the Museo Arcivescovile in Florence, belonged to an altarpiece that has been lost (but was originally painted for the church of San Bartolomeo at Quarate). It is stylistically close to the Prato frescoes, and it consists of three scenes: St John on Patmos, the Adoration of the Magi and Saints John and Ansano.

Although some scholars do not believe it is the work of Uccello, it can be placed chronologically in the group of paintings accepted as Uccello's work. As certain critics have pointed out, the Quarate predella shows the same interest in narrative, lively colours and description of details which is typical of Uccello's production in the years when he was working on the Prato frescoes (1435-40). A feeling of abstraction pervades these scenes, today no more than a group of fragments of faded and almost undecipherable images, in which we can make out a few architectural structures shown in accurate perspective and some monks laid out according to geometric patterns. In the extravagant choice of colours Uccello appears to have given his fantasy free rein; in fact, as Vasari noted, "he did not pay much attention to the rule of consistency in colour, as was usual in the painting of stories; for he made the fields blue, the cities red, and the buildings the colour he felt like."




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