The Piero della Francesca Trail is an excursion which traces the works created by Piero della Francesca in Arezzo, Monterchi, San Sepolcro (his birthplace) and Urbino. To his contemporaries, Piero was admired as a mathematician and geometer as well as a painter, and today his paintings are celebrated for their serene humanism and use of geometric forms, particularly in perspective and foreshortening.
“The Legend of the True Cross” in the center of Arezzo, in the San Francesco Church. The entire fresco has now been restored and is located at the end of the church, behind the alter. The cycle, completed in 1466, begins with the “Death of Adam” in the lunette of the right wall and concludes with “The Exultation of the True Cross” in the lunette on the left wall and “The Annunciation” at the bottom left of the center wall. The chronological execution of the frescoes follows a different order, however, from top to bottom and from left to right, painted from seven different scaffolds over a period of 250 “working days”. The church is closed midday (from noon to 2pm). Call to book ticket: 0575-900404 or 0575 352727 In the Duomoof Arezzo, one can see Piero’s Mary Magdelene on the far left hand wall:
Saint Mary Magdalen, 1460. Fresco, 190 x 105 cm
Man in a Toga, Anonymous, Museo Civico, Arezzo
Piero’s Madonna del Parto (detail)
Monterchi: “Madonna del Parto”. In just seven “working days” (presumably before 1465) Piero della Francesca painted the extraordinary and touching image of the Madonna del Parto. The fresco was planned to complete the back wall of the main altar in the 13th century church of Santa Maria di Momentana on the slopes of Monterchi. The church was completely destroyed in 1785 after a disastrous earthquake which miraculously left standing only the wall with the fresco. The panting was later detached from the wall and moved to a niche in the main altar of a new church. In 1889, after more than a century of neglect, the fresco was “rediscovered” as one of Piero’s masterpieces. In order to conserve the fresco it was again detached from the wall in 1910 by the restorer Domenico Fiscali and then was again saved from destruction in the earthquake of 1917 that seriously damaged the 18th century cemetery chapel. From 1956 until its restoration in 1992/93 the Madonna del Parto was conserved inside a new chapel built from the remains of the earlier structure – the cemetery chapel on the SS221, west of Monterchi. Hours: 9am – 1pm, 2pm – 7pm, Tuesday – Sunday. Closed Mondays. Price 4 euros. Sansepolcro: Museo Civico There are two great works of art by Piero della Francesca in the Museo Civico in Sansepolcro, the Madonna della Misericordia (Madonna of Mercy) and the Resurrection of Christ.
Saint Julian, Piero della Francesca
The Resurrection of Christ is still on the wall where it was painted. Described by Aldous Huxley as the “greatest painting in the world” (read the full text here) it is probably the first picture to deliberately use two vanishing points. The Resurrection depicts symbols of renewal, as seen in the barren trees on the left while the trees on the right are covered in foliage and the clouds are lit with the light of the rising sun. It is said that the sleeping soldier in the brown tunic is a self portrait of Piero della Francesca. Museo Civico, Via Niccolò Aggiunti. Hours: 9:30am – 1:30pm, 2:30pm – 7pm during the summer. Open daily. Entrance 6 euros.
Piero della Francesca, The Flagellation, c. 1455, Oil and tempera on panel, 59 x 82 cm, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche, Urbino Urbino’s Palazzo Ducale – The Flagellation of Christ (probably 1455–1460) is an enigmatic painting by Piero della Francesca. Much of Piero’s later career was spent working at the humanist court of Federico da Montefeltro at Urbino. There he painted the portraits of Federico and his wife (Uffizi, Florence, c. 1465), the celebrated Flagellation and the Madonna of Senigallia. The museum also contains works by Antonella Messina, Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini, Lorenzo Lotto, Ribera, Murillo, Van Dyck, Rubens and Titian. Palazzo Ducale, Piazza Duca Federico 107. Open Tues-Sunday from 8:30am – 7:15pm. 8:30am – 2pm on Mondays. 4 euros.
Piero della Francesca, Madonna di Senigallia
Portrait of a Young Woman (best known as La Muta), Raphael, 1507-1508, Galleria Nazionale delle Marche