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"Battle of the Nudes" was Pollaiuolo’s sole venture into printmaking during his forty-year career in painting, metalwork, and sculpture. Born in Florence about 1431, he received his initial training as a goldsmith; according to tradition, he worked as an assistant to Lorenzo Ghiberti on the "Gates of Paradise" for the Baptistery in Florence.

"Battle of the Nudes" was one of the largest fifteenth century Italian engravings and one of the earliest to be signed with the artist’s name. A famous print in its day, it generated replicas in various media and inspired numerous partial copies. It was so admired during the Renaissance that it was mentioned by Giorgio Vasari in his "Lives of the Artists," first published in 1550 - one of the few prints to be thus recognized.

With his knowledge of goldsmithing, Pollaiuolo possessed the skills that allowed him to engrave on copper. His experience as a painter and a draftsman enabled him to design this complex, multi-figured composition. Pollaiuolo was one of the first artists to make a serious study of human anatomy and possibly the first to perform anatomical dissections. Therefore he understood what lay beneath the skin’s surface, and succeeded in depicting the stress and strain of the human body in movement. His subjects’ violent physical activity was accompanied by ferocious facial expressions. The antagonists are arranged in pairs, which ingeniously display the naked male body in ten different poses.

Details

  • Title: Battle of the Nudes
  • Creator: Antonio Pollaiuolo (Italian, b.1431-1432, d.1498)
  • Creator Lifespan: 1431/32 - 1498
  • Creator Nationality: Italian
  • Creator Gender: Male
  • Creator Death Place: Rome, Italy
  • Creator Birth Place: Florence, Italy
  • Date Created: Circa 1489
  • Location: Italy
  • Location Created: Italy
  • Physical Dimensions: sheet 15-16 1/16 x 22 13/16 in. (39.3-40.9 x 57.9 cm)
  • Credit Line: Bequest of Herbert Greer French
  • Alternate Title: Battle of the Naked Men
  • Accession Number: 1943.118
  • Type: Print
  • Medium: engraving, 2nd state

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