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Feb 12 – May 19, 2013 - The Frick Collection - 1 East 70th St. - New York

The Frick Collection is presenting the first monographic exhibition in the United States on Piero della Francesca, bringing together seven works, including six panels from the Sant’Agostino altarpiece painted in the mid-to-late 15th century — the largest number from this masterwork ever reassembled for display. These are joined by the Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels, Piero's only intact altarpiece in this country.

One of the most important painters of the Early Renaissance, Piero di Benedetto de' Franceschi known as Piero della Francesca was also a mathematician and a geometer. He was born in about 1420 in Sansepolcro, in the province of Arezzo, Tuscany. His mother, Romana di Perino da Monterchi, was part of a Florentine noble family; his father, Benedetto de' Franceschi, a wealthy leather merchant.

James Banker has found documents that show that Piero worked as the assistant of painter Antonio d'Anghiari when he was still a boy. In June 1431 Piero’s father, Benedetto, received payment for Piero's work "painting the poles of the candles".

One document dated 29 December 1432 states:- Master Antonio di Giovanni painter from Anghiari, inhabitant of the land of Borgo, was confessed and content to be the true debtor of Benedetto di Piero di Benedetto from aforesaid Borgo in the amount of fifty-six florins ... for the salary and debt of Pietro, painter, son of said Benedetto and the wages of the said Pietro for the labour lent to the said Master Antonio from the first of the month of the most recent June and also from the loan to him by the said Benedetto made freely on successive occasions and down to today for the exigencies of said master Antonio for the furnishings of the pictures of the altar-piece of the major altar of the church of S. Francesco.

Piero was not an apprentice but an assistant painter at twelve years old! By the time he was 19, he was working with Domenico Veneziano on frescoes in the Chapel of Santo Egidio, in the Hospital of Santa Maria Nuova, in Florence.

In 1445 La Compagnia della Misericordia commissioned him to paint an altarpiece in their church at Sansepolcro called Polittico della Misericordia (1445-1462), now at the Museo Civico; around this time, he also painted the Baptism of Christ.

He then travelled to work in Ferrara at several frescoes in the Castello Estense and the Church of Sant'Andrea; in Rimini working at the famous fresco of St. Sigismund and Sigismondo Pandolfo Malatesta in the Tempio Malatestiano, as well as Sigismondo's portrait; in Ancona, Pesaro and Bologna.

Piero was called to Arezzo to replace Bicci di Lorenzo in painting the frescoes of the Basilica di San Francesco. Here he paints one his most famous works, the Legend of the True Cross. Marilyn Lavin writes: - In the Tuscan town of Arezzo, Piero della Francesca painted the Renaissance fresco cycle most admired by twentieth-century viewers. The frescoes represent the story of the True Cross, and were commissioned for the chancel area of the friary church of San Francesco. The decorations had been started by a popular, but rather workmanlike, painter Bicci di Lorenzo, in the late 1440s; it was probably after Bicci died in 1452 that Piero was called in. He completed the project sometime before December 20, 1466 ...

In 1454 he started the polyptych for the high altar in the church of Sant'Agostino in Sansepolcro, another masterpiece. Until May 19 you will have a chance to see most of its panels together at The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street in New York. To say 'Don't Miss It' is an understatement.