Piero's Light: In Search of Piero della Francesca: A Renaissance Painter and the Revolution in Art, Science, and Religion

Piero's Light: In Search of Piero della Francesca: A Renaissance Painter and the Revolution in Art, Science, and Religion

by Larry Witham


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In the tradition of The Swerve and Galileo's Daughter, Piero's Light reveals how art, religion and science came together at the dawn of the modern world in the paintings of one remarkable artist

In the heart of Tuscany, Piero della Francesca became a painter and mathematician at the dawn of the Renaissance, revealing his innovative mind in some of the best known images from that period, and in his unusual writings on geometry. Yet as a personality, Piero remains a mystery. He leaves an enigmatic legacy that ranges from the merging of religion and mathematics to his use of perspective to make painting a “true science.”

In this engaging narrative, Larry Witham transports us to Piero’s tumultuous age, a world of princes and popes, soldiers and schisms. Piero’s Light also reveals how he was part of the philosophical revival of Platonism, an ancient worldview that would shape art, religion, and science’s transition toward modernity. Just sixteen of Piero’s paintings survive, but these images and his writings would fuel some of the greatest art historical debates of all time.

Through Witham’s wide research, Piero emerges as a figure who marks a turning point in Western culture. Our past understanding of faith, beauty, and knowledge has been radically altered by a secular age, and the story of Piero helps us understand how this has taken place. The search for Piero has continued among both intrepid scholars and art lovers of all kinds, and it is no wonder: few artists in history take us as deeply into the intellectual excitement of the Renaissance as Piero della Francesca.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781605986937
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 04/15/2015
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 368
Product dimensions: 5.50(w) x 8.60(h) x 3.90(d)

About the Author

Larry Witham is author of more than twelve books, including By Design: Science and the Sea; Art Schooled; and Picasso and the Chess Player. He lives the Maryland suburbs of Washington, DC .

Table of Contents

Preface xi

Prologue: Discovering Piero xvii

Part I

Chapter 1 The Renaissance's Apprentice 3

Chapter 2 Florentine Crossroads 23

Chapter 3 A Platonic Painter of Light 46

Chapter 4 Strange Legends in Fresco 78

Chapter 5 Piero Goes to Rome 92

Chapter 6 The Aging Geometer 111

Part II

Chapter 7 After the Renaissance 141

Chapter 8 Piero Rediscovered 166

Chapter 9 Piero and Modernity 193

Chapter 10 The Eyes of Science 231

Chapter 11 A Celebrated Life 252

Epilogue 277

Acknowledgments 287

Illustration Credits 289

Notes 291

Index 343

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