(b Florence, c.1397; d Florence, 10 Dec. 1475). Florentine painter, one of the most distinctive artists of the early Renaissance. Vasari says he was called ‘Uccello’ (which means ‘bird’) because he loved animals, and birds in particular, and he seems to have been regarded as something of an eccentric. He is first documented c.1412 as an apprentice of Ghiberti, but he is not known to have worked as a sculptor. From 1425 to 1427 he is recorded in Venice, where he worked as a mosaicist at St Mark's, but nothing survives there that can be certainly associated with him. By 1431 he was back in Florence, where he spent most of the rest of his life (he worked in Padua, 1444–5, and in Urbino, 1465–8). In 1436 he painted his first dated surviving work—a huge fresco in Florence Cathedral depicting an equestrian statue, a monument to the English condottiere Sir John Hawkwood (d 1394).

Text source: The Oxford Dictionary of Art and Artists (Oxford University Press)

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