Mini Biography: Paolo Uccello

Birth: 1397
Death: Dec. 10th 1475
Nationality: Italian
Movement: Early Renaissance

Born in Florence, Uccello was apprenticed at 10 years old to a famous sculptor, Lorenzo Ghiberti. He was a member of a painter’s guilds by about age 17 although he spent 12 years working in the sculptor’s workshop. Once on his own, Uccello painted animals for the Medici and several scenes from the Bible for the Chiostro Verde of Santa Maria Novella. Uccello was a fresco painter which was fairly common for his time period and a number of notable works from famous Renaissance masters are frescoes.* In his late 20’s Uccello learned geometry and started traveling eventually visiting, and working in, various towns and provinces in Italy including Venice, Tuscany, Bologna, and Rome. Uccello didn’t marry until his mid-50’s but fathered two children a son, named after his boyhood friend and sculptor, Donatello and a daughter, Antonia, who became a nun and a painter.

Some of his notable works include: Funerary Monument to Sir John Hawkwood (1436); The Battle of San Romano (1438–1440); Saint George and the Dragon (1470) which is pictured below.


Uccello, Paolo. St. George and the Dragon, 1470, The National Gallery of Art.

To read more about Paolo Uccello visit:

The National Gallery

Virtual Uffizi Gallery

*There are two types of fresco painting: buon which involves painting on fresh, wet plaster or secco which is applying paint to an already dried plaster. In buon fresco the paint is absorbed by the plaster allowing the two materials to meld into one. The buon image lasts much longer than paintings done in secco because the medium is no longer just paint but a highly pigmented plaster. In secco fresco, since the paint is applied later, it eventually just flakes off. Buon fresco painters had approximately 8 hours to create their paintings or to finish a section of their large mural paintings – precision, skill, and planning are all necessary for a successful buon fresco.