This work shows Pollaiuolo’s first experimentation with zig-zag hatching. The technique is comparable to drawing with a pen, allowing the artist to structure the body’s inner forms, while giving shape to the play of light and shade, more vividly and liberally than would be possible using the extremely delicate and short broken lines characteristic of the ‘Fine Manner’. As in a frieze, two parallels rows of figures are seen against thescreen of vegetation in the background. The arrangement and lines of this background echo the symmetry of the figures and their weapons. Although all elements interweave by dint of the work’s various overlapping forms, the overall dynamic freezes into a state of stasis, consistent with an approach premised upon the depiction of pared down battle motifs. These in turn allow the artist to focus exclusively on the depiction of individual bodies in idealized poses and torsions. The bearing and anatomical detail of the men draws upon the imagery of reliefs adorning ancient sarcophaguses, subjects depicted in illuminated manuscripts, and the artist’s own studies of nudes.


  • Title: The Battle of the Naked Men
  • Creator: Antonio di Jacopo d'Antonio del Pollaiuolo
  • Date: c. 1470/1475 - 1475
  • Physical Dimensions: w59.5 x h40.5 cm
  • Type: Print
  • Medium: Copperplate and dry point
  • Inv.-No.: 808-21
  • ISIL no.: DE-MUS-018511
  • External Link: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin
  • Copyright: Photo © bpk - Photo Agency / Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Atelier Schneider │ Text © Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz / Hein-Th. Schulze Altcappenberg
  • Collection: Kupferstichkabinett, Staatliche Museen zu Berlin - Preußischer Kulturbesitz
  • Artist Place of Death: Roma, Italy
  • Artist Gender: Male
  • Artist Dates: 17.01.1433 - 04.02.1498

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