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Early Renaissance painter and engraver

Vision of St Eustace, by Pisanello

Pisanello (Antonio Pisano, c. 1415–c. 1455) was born in Pisa but spent his youth in Verona, then much of the rest of his life traveling the courts of Italy, where he was in great demand and was praised by poets and the first Quattrocento humanists. His style was always courtly and elegant; in his youth he worked with the great International Gothic master, Gentile da Fabriano (they collaborated on frescoes in the Palazzo Ducale, which sadly went up in flames in the great fire of 1483) yet his interest in the natural world and perspective put him in the Early Renaissance camp.

Because so many of his other works have been lost as well over the centuries, Pisanello's exquisite, poetic sense of line survives mostly in his drawings. He was famous for his depiction of horses and other animals; the head of St George's horse in his best surviving frescoes, in the Pellegrini Chapel of Sant'Anastasia in Verona, is utterly compelling.

Pisanello was also the originator of the Renaissance portrait medal, an art he revived from Classical antiquity when he worked for the Pope in Rome; several can be seen in the Ca’ d’Oro).

Text © Dana Facaros and Michael Pauls

Image by PD Art