The Flagellation (c. 1469) by Piero della Francesca

The Flagellation - Piero della Francesca - c.1445 - 1450

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Artwork Information

TitleThe Flagellation
ArtistPiero della Francesca
Datec.1445 - 1450
MediumTempera on Panel
Dimensions59 x 81.3 cm
Art MovementEarly Renaissance
Current LocationNational Gallery of the Marches (Palazzo Ducale di Urbino), Urbino, Italy

About The Flagellation

“The Flagellation,” created by Piero della Francesca circa 1445 – 1450, is a quintessential piece of Early Renaissance art that embodies the religious fervor and artistic innovation of the period. This tempera on panel masterpiece measures 59 by 81.3 centimeters and resides in the National Gallery of the Marches at the Palazzo Ducale di Urbino, in Urbino, Italy. The artwork’s historical and religious significance is matched by its technical brilliance, which makes it a notable religious painting of its time.

In the artwork, the scene presents a striking dichotomy, featuring two distinct groups that occupy the foreground and background, seemingly disconnected yet part of a single narrative. To the right, three men engage in a solemn discussion, their luxurious and finely detailed garments indicative of wealth and high status. Their intricate clothing and thoughtful expressions suggest a dialogue of importance, perhaps pertaining to the scene unfolding behind them.

The background scene is a stark juxtaposition to the calm conference in the foreground. It depicts the biblical episode of the flagellation of Christ, a moment of profound suffering and injustice. Christ is shown bound to a column, while three tormentors carry out the flagellation. This scene is skillfully rendered within an architectural setting that is synonymous with Piero della Francesca’s precise use of perspective, a hallmark of the artist’s dedication to the geometrical aspects of composition.

The classical architecture framing both groups is rendered with mathematical precision, emphasizing the harmony and order typical of Renaissance ideals. The color palette is subtle and calculated, with the use of light creating a sense of depth and volume throughout the composition.

Remarkably, the two groups of figures—the observers and participants of the flagellation—remain distinct, allowing the viewers to contemplate the relationships and the thematic symbolism that Piero della Francesca may have intended. The artwork invites interpretation, urging the viewer to consider the complex interplay between the human and divine, the temporal and eternal, and the poignant juxtaposition of indifference and suffering.

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