Piero del Pollaiolo
Italian painter (1441-1496)



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Piero del Pollaiolo
Italian painter (1441-1496)
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Arty Fact

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Although the Florentine Piero del Pollaiolo worked on many paintings in collaboration with his brother, Antonio, with whom he shared a workshop, his exact authorship is controversial in most cases, because he only signed and dated one work: the altarpiece of the Coronation of the Virgin in the church of Sant'Agostino in San Gimignano.

In general, Piero's contributions play second fiddle to Antonio's, but there's a possibility that Piero was more humble than his brother, and that his low profile is due to the inherently collaborative nature of their work. In those days, the idea of intellectual property was very new, and many people just copied other people's work and called it their own, because, in a way, it was. This was, for the most part, acceptable.

In the altarpiece of the Coronation of the Virgin in the church of Sant'Agostino in San Gimignano, Piero del Pollaiolo, like an urban graffiti artist or muralist, gave props to the saints venerated by the locals in San Gimignano. Beata Fina, a Tuscan medicine woman, and Bartolus, dressed as a priest, are kneeling. Piero stuck his neck out for the hometown crowd, but because Rome had not yet made Beata Fina and Bartolus into saints, he hedged his bets and surrounded their bodies with luminous auras, rather than placing halos over their heads. 

The brothers experimented with the use of oil paints and found that they were effective for binding artwork to surfaces. They worked as goldsmiths, sculptors, and painters, and never felt the need to specialize in one area over the others. Compared to Verocchio, the Pollaiolos were underdogs, without the kind of money or reputation that would allow them to bring large numbers of apprentices into the fold.



  1. Coen, Enrico. Cells to Civilizations: The Principles of Change That Shape Life. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2012.
  2. Cruttwell, Maud. Antonio Pollaiuolo. London: Duckworth, 1907.
  3. Geronimus, Dennis. Piero Di Cosimo: Visions Beautiful and Strange. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2006.
  4. Landucci, Luca. Diario fiorentino dal 1450 al 1516. Firenze: Sansoni, 1883.
  5. Neilson, Christina. Practice and Theory in the Italian Renaissance Workshop: Verrocchio and the Epistemology of Making Art. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2019.
  6. Tofani, Annamaria Petrioli. Inventario: Disegni esposti, Volume 1. Firenze: Leo S. Olschki Editore, 1986.
  7. Wright, Alison. The Pollaiuolo Brothers: The Arts of Florence and Rome. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2005.

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Piero del Pollaiolo

Piero del Pollaiuolo (UK: /ˌpɒlˈwl/ POL-eye-WOH-loh,US: /ˌpl-/ POHL-,Italian: [ˈpjɛːro del pollaˈjwɔːlo]; also spelled Pollaiolo; c. 1443 in Florence – 1496 in Rome), also known as Piero Benci, was an Italian Renaissance painter from Florence. His brother was the artist Antonio del Pollaiuolo and the two frequently worked together. Their work shows both classical influences and an interest in human anatomy; reportedly, the brothers carried out dissections to improve their knowledge of the subject.

Giorgio Vasari includes a biography of Pollaiuolo in his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Piero del Pollaiolo.