During the early Renaissance, Piero della Francesca's artistic talents were highly sought after by patrons across the Italian peninsula but nowhere more so than in his hometown of Borgo San Sepolcro. This lecture will explore how Piero gradually transformed the art of painting by applying his pioneering pictorial imagination to the challenge of three gothic polyptychs and by introducing Renaissance format paintings into the domestic interior with his Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels (featured in the exhibition) and Nativity of Christ (The National Gallery, London). The latter work will be discussed in the context of architectural and pictorial decoration designed by Piero for his family's private palazzo.
A lecturer at the University of Amsterdam, Machtelt Israëls specializes in Italian Renaissance art and publishes and lectures on the function, technique, patronage, and meaning of painting in Tuscany. She was a fellow at Harvard's Villa I Tatti in 2004-05, for which she recently completed a volume on Sassetta's Borgo San Sepolcro altarpiece. She contributed to the catalogues for the exhibitions Da Jacopo della Quercia a Donatello. Le arti a Siena nel Rinascimento (2010) and La primavera del Rinascimento. La scultura e le arti a Firenze (spring 2013), as well as the recently opened Piero della Francesca in America at The Frick Collection in New York. She has written a monograph forthcoming on Sassetta and (with Carl Brandon Strehlke) the catalogue of the paintings in the Berenson Collection at Villa I Tatti in Florence. Born in Amsterdam, Israëls was educated in art history, chemistry, and conservation of works of art before receiving her Ph.D. from the University of Amsterdam with the dissertation "Sassetta's Madonna della Neve: An Image of Patronage."
Italian Renaissance art historian for the University of Amsterdam Machtelt Israels observes the influence that the della Francesca household had on the realistic sense of space and architecture seen in Piero della Francesca's polyptychs and frescoes.