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Artist & Broadcaster
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Television work

Paulo Uccello’s The Battle of San Romano, one programme in ‘The Private Life of a Masterpiece’ series, BBC2, 2006

[also click here to see this painting in ‘Renewed masterpieces’]

This is the earliest painting I’ve ever discussed on TV; the original was painted over five hundred years ago. ‘The past is a foreign country’, they say, and this idea is superbly expressed in this beautiful, extraordinary and very strange painting. Getting into the mind of the eccentric artist Uccello and understanding his techniques and approach in order to recreate his best known work was not easy. The main point of the exercise was to recreate the painting as it was when new, including making a conjectural reconstruction of the arched top of the painting which was sawn off hundreds of years ago.

This painting took a great deal of time to create, particularly to apply the numerous areas of real silver leaf that Uccello used to represent steel armour, or real gold leaf to represent the knight’s polished brass or gilded accessories. As a grand finale to the programme, the finished recreation was filmed in candlelight, which was a revelation because the glittering richness of this newly-whole masterpiece was revealed for the first time in centuries.

Leo San Romano
Leo Knights
 

I was present during some of the filming of the dramatic reconstructions in this documentary, which was an interesting experience. If Forest Gump’s “box of chocolates” represented the different but memorable experiences that life can offer, then this is one I should have put back in the box. I’d highly recommend having fully-armoured authentic knights charging at you at full pelt to bring about a déjà-vu breakfast.