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Paolo Uccello’s early life is somewhat unclear, scholars believe that he was born circa 1397 in Pratovecchio, Italy, and his real name was Paolo di Dono. His first documented apprenticeship was under the famous sculptor Lorenzo Ghiberti, from 1412 until 1416. Ghiberti’s workshop was the most distinguished center for Florentine art production at the time. This period was also when Paolo began his friendship with Donatello, which they cultivated for all their lives. By his 18 years, Paolo was accepted at the official Florentine painter’s guild, the Arte dei Medici e degli Speziali. Uccello remained on good terms with his master, despite him leaving his workshop by the mid-1420s.
According to Giorgio Vasari, Uccello's reputation began to rise due to his expertly crafted perspective and his craftsmanship on creating illusions of space. The best example is his Annunciation, featuring a large building with its columns in perspective. This artwork would become a model to follow, regarding using perspective as a powerful composition tool.
Uccello was asked to execute a number of animal paintings for the powerful House of Medici. Uccello was very fond of painting animals and kept a wide variety of animal pictures, especially of birds. His love for birds gave origin to his nickname Paolo Uccelli, meaning Paul of the Birds.
By 27 years old, Uccello was already established and making his living as a painter. During several years, the artist completed several commissions, mostly frescoes, and many stained glass designs. In 1445, the artist returned to the city of Padua, under the invitation of Donatello.
Upon his return to Florence in 1446, the artist painted Green Stations of the Cross, once again for the church of Santa Maria Novella. From around 1447 to 1454, the artist executed Scenes of Monastic Life. By the mid-150s, Uccello created three of his most celebrated frescoes, the panels representing The Battle of San Romano for the Palazzo Medici.
By 1453, the artist married Tommasa Malifici, the same year his son Donato was born, named after Donatello. His daughter Antonia became a Carmelite nun, and documents suggest that she was also a skilled painter. However, her artworks and style are still unknown.
During the last period of his life, Uccello became lonesome and virtually forgotten. His final known artwork was The Hunt in the Forest, finished circa 1470.
Paolo Uccello died on December 10, 1475, in Florence, Italy.