Piero della Francesca in America

During a career spanning nearly sixty years, Piero della Francesca worked in almost every major center across the Italian peninsula, although nowhere did he accept more commissions than in Borgo San Sepolcro. Like his native city, Piero's paintings are possessed of a character that is neither Florentine nor Sienese but entirely unique. On the closing weekend of the special exhibition, the show's curator discusses Piero's career in Borgo and explores how some of his masterpieces created for that city reached American shores.

The landscapes in Piero's paintings, particularly his Baptism of Christ (The National Gallery, London), are often thought to recall the area around his hometown of Borgo San Sepolcro. In truth, they evoke the upper Tiber Valley without describing it precisely. But what did it mean to locate sacred scenes in a recognizable and local setting? Did that landscape carry any connotations for the fifteenth-century residents of Borgo San Sepolcro that might be lost to us today?

— This lecture was made possible by the Robert H. Smith Family Foundation.

More often celebrated as a painter, Piero della Francesca was also a pioneering mathematician. This lecture will discuss Piero’s mathematical achievements, focusing on his precocious mastery of the teachings of the Greek geometrician Archimedes. Shortly after his death, Luca Pacioli, a Franciscan friar, published two of Piero’s treatises under his own name and conveyed Piero’s knowledge of geometry to Leonardo da Vinci, who later became an expert in the subject.

During the early Renaissance, Piero della Francesca’s artistic talents were highly sought after by patrons across the Italian peninsula but nowhere more so than in his hometown of Borgo San Sepolcro.