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The taking of Pisa - unknown Florentine master of the 1460s

A larger image of 'The taking of Pisa' - unknown Florentine master of the 1460s

Unknown Artist, Florence, 15th century, Italian, 1460s
Title: The Taking of Pisa
Date: late 1460s
Medium: Tempera and gold leaf on poplar panel
Dimensions: 61.5 x 205.7 cm
Credit Line: Bequeathed, Sir Hugh Lane, 1918
Object Number: NGI.780
Provenance: Collection Charles Butler, Esq.; bequeathed, Sir Hugh Lane, 1918

These two decorative panels (NGI.778 & NGI.780) illustrate famous Florentine victories. The defeat of the Milanese army on the river Tiber, near Anghiari, on 29 June 1440, made Florence the rulers of Tuscany. This is the earliest depiction of the battle and may have influenced Leonardo da Vinci’s lost fresco in the Palazzo Vecchio, Florence.

The siege of Pisa lasted eight months and ended on 9 october 1406. the Florentines entered the city with bread on their lances for the starving inhabitants, as seen being prepared in the foreground of the painting. The unknown artist captures both the pageantry and brutality of Renaissance war and carefully identifies the various towns, even including the famous ‘leaning’ Tower of Pisa. The scenes not only celebrate two key Florentine victories against neighbouring powers but they also pay tribute to members of the Capponi family, who contributed on both occasions to the success of the city’s cause, and for whom these panels may have been painted.

Label Text
This is one of a pair of painted panels, by an unknown artist, that illustrate famous Florentine military victories of the fifteenth century. This panel depicts the Florentines besieging the Tuscan city of Pisa in 1406. The scene can be read from left to right, with Florence visible in the distance at left and Pisa, with its distinctive leaning tower, to the right. The siege lasted eight months, and many people died of starvation. The artist shows the Florentines entering the walled city after the surrender; the soldiers carried bread, skewered on their lances, to feed the starving citizens.
National Gallery of Ireland, Dublin

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